Prominent figures from the world of football and beyond have shared messages of condolence
Tributes have poured in for Brazilian football legend Pele, who died aged 82 on Thursday. Considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, Pele won the World Cup three times during his remarkable career – the only man ever to achieve the feat.
Pele’s passing was confirmed by his family and officials at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo, where he had been admitted for treatment at the end of November as part of his battle with colon cancer.
Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento, one of his seven children, shared a social media message of members of the family joining hands with the football icon in his hospital bed.
“Everything we are is because of you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace,” Nascimento wrote.
The news of Pele’s death prompted a wave of mourning in his homeland and far beyond.
Current Brazilian star Neymar – who shares the record with Pele as all-time top scorer for the national team on 77 goals – praised Pele’s transformational impact on football.
“Pele changed everything. He transformed football into art, entertainment. Football and Brazil elevated their standing thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will endure. Pele is eternal!” Neymar wrote in a message to his 199 million Instagram followers.
Cristiano Ronaldo also paid tribute to the man known as the ‘King’.
“My deep condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele),” wrote the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“The love you always showed me was reciprocated in every moment we shared even from distance.
“He will never be forgotten and his memory will live forever in each and every one of us football lovers.
“Rest in peace King Pele.”
The Argentina team were recently congratulated by Pele for their World Cup success in Qatar, and captain Lionel Messi shared a tribute with photos of himself alongside the Brazilian great.
“Rest in peace,” read a message from Messi.
Like Pele – who famously fired Brazil to their first World Cup title in 1958 aged just 17 – French star Kylian Mbappe is another player to have illuminated the tournament while still a teenager.
Mbappe shared a touching tribute on Twitter with a photo of himself and Pele smiling.
“The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING,” wrote the French forward.
In Russia, the national football team’s social media accounts shared an image of Pele alongside the late Lev Yashin – a man considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper ever to play the game.
At political level, Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva paid tribute by noting Pele’s impact on promoting his nation worldwide as football’s first global megastar.
“Few Brazilians have taken our country’s name as far as he did… He didn’t just play. He put on an all-out show. Thank you, Pele,” wrote the leader.
One of Brazil’s most famous landmarks – the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro – was illuminated in national colors on Thursday as a mark of respect to the late football icon.
Brazil has announced three days of mourning.
Pele’s body will be taken from the Albert Einstein hospital at dawn on Monday, and his coffin will then be placed in the center of the field at the Vila Belmiro Stadium.
The stadium is home to football club Santos – where Pele spent the vast majority of a career in which he scored more than 1,200 goals.
Pele’s body will remain there for 24 hours as fans pay their respects, before a parade will carry his coffin through the streets – including past the home of his 100-year-old mother, Celeste – for a private burial at the Memorial Necropole Ecumenica in Santos.
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