Pelé’s passing on Thursday (Dec. 29) has generated reactions of grief and veneration from musicians, athletes, politicians and other personalities, but one that has received special attention is that of Brazilian former model, TV host and singer Xuxa, who was in a high-profile relationship with the Brazilian soccer legend in the 1980s.
“Márcia, Kelly, Edinho, Jennifer, Joshua, Celeste and others (children of the heart), grandchildren, nephews, Lucia… and all those who have been by Dico’s side, my affectionate hug and may the pain of loss become good memories to be less heavy”, Xuxa wrote in Portuguese on Thursday via Instagram, captioning a photo of what appears to be the hands of loved ones resting on the king of the “jogo bonito.” “Márcia, may God give you the lap you need,” she added addressing Pelé’s widow, Marcia Aoki.
Pelé, who was also a musician, passed away in São Paulo at the age of 82. He had been battling colon cancer since September 2021 and was hospitalized in November. The news of his death was confirmed on his official Instagram page.
Four decades have passed since he and Xuxa were one of the most famous couples in the world of sports and entertainment, and also one of the most scrutinized by the media, both for their race difference and their age gap.
“And also money,” Xuxa said years later on Univision’s El Show de Cristina. “He had a lot of fame and money, so people thought I was with him because of this.” Xuxa was 17 and Pelé 40 when they started dating in 1980 after meeting at a photo shoot for the cover of Manchete magazine in which Pelé posed with four models, including her. The relationship would last almost seven years.
“I thought that, with time passing, people would stop talking. But no, they didn’t,” the Brazilian star added in the same interview, in which she spoke in Spanish. Eventually the love ran out and they broke up, Xuxa said. And each of them moved on.
Pelé, who had previously been married to Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi (1966 to 1982), mother of his children Kelly Cristina, Jennifer and Edson, married two more times — first with singer Assíria Lemos Seixas (1992 to 2008), with whom he had twins Joshua and Celeste; and in 2016 with the Japanese-Brazilian entrepreneur Marcia Aoki, who was by his side until the end.
As for Xuxa, she spent a decade with Brazilian businessman and actor Luciano Szafir, with whom she had her only daughter, model Sasha Meneghel. Xuxa has been in a relationship with actor Junno Andrade since 2012.
See Xuxa’s Instagram post about Pelé below.