Story by The National
Global figures from across the sporting world have paid tribute to football star Pele, who passed away in Sao Paulo on Thursday following a lengthy battle with cancer. The sporting star was an international football symbol, beloved by millions around the globe.
The sporting star — who won three World Cups and scored more than 1,000 goals — was an international football symbol, beloved by millions around the globe. A tweet from the Brazilian Football Federation read simply “King Pele”, accompanied by three crown emojis. Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar said that his countryman had “transformed football into an art”. “Before Pele, ’10’ was just a number,” the heir to Pele’s famed jersey number wrote on Instagram, alongside two pictures of himself with the late legend. “I would say that before Pele, football was just a sport. He transformed football into an art, into entertainment … Football and Brazil gained status thanks to the king. He has gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is eternal!” French 2022 World Cup sensation Kylian Mbappe, who in 2018 won the World Cup as a teenager, said that Pele’s legacy “will never be forgotten”. Meanwhile, Argentine world-renowned star Lionel Messi posted a picture on Instagram of him with Pele with the message: “Rest in peace, Pele.” Cristiano Ronaldo posted a picture of him receiving an award from Pele and wrote: “My deepest condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Mr Edson Arantes do Nascimento. “A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that currently embraces the entire world of football.” He added: “An inspiration for so many millions, a reference from yesterday, today, forever. The affection he always showed for me was reciprocal in every moment we shared, even from a distance. “He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever in each of us football lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.” Former England World Cup winner Geoff Hurst hailed Pele as the “greatest of all time”. Hurst played against Pele in the 1970 World Cup, with Brazil winning a group stage match between the two countries 1-0, and rated the forward as the best he ever faced. The Football Association, which will light up the Wembley arch in Brazil’s colours as a tribute, said: “Everyone who loves football, loves Pele.” Jamaican former sprinter Usain Bolt, an eight-time Olympic gold medallist, wrote on Twitter: “A sporting legend. Rest in peace, King Pele.” Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter called Pele the “greatest footballer in history”. Blatter, 86, who led world football’s governing body from 1998 to 2015, said he was “immensely sad” to learn of Pele’s death. But it was not only athletes who expressed their admiration for the late player: WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus uploaded a picture to social media with a caption that read “RIP Pele.”