Pele died aged 82 on Thursday, his family confirmed, and it didn’t take long for countless tributes to pour in for the legendary Brazilian footballer.
Pele was one of the most-loved footballers of all time, considered an eternal master of the beautiful game.
He won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970, his sumptuous range of skills making him the embodiment of his country’s golden age of football.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in October 1940, Pele played his first game for Santos as a 15-year-old in 1956. He earned a call-up to the national team a year later, scoring on his debut against Argentina. In 1958 he was picked for the World Cup in Sweden.
When he finally retired in 1977, Pele is said to have scored more than 1,000 goals. He scored 77 for Brazil, as per Fifa’s official record, a tally only equalled at the recent World Cup by Neymar.
Neymar, who wears the iconic No 10 for Brazil now, led the tributes to the legend:
Before Pelé, 10 was just a number. I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, beautiful, is incomplete. I would say before Pelé football was just a sport. Pelé has changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: He gave visibility to Brazil. Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone but his magic remains. Pelé is FOREVER!!— Neymar / Translated Instagram post
My deep condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Edson Arantes do Nascimento. A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that the entire football world is currently embracing. An inspiration to so many millions, a reference yesterday, today and forever. 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 Pelé.— Cristiano Ronaldo / Translated Instagram post
Here are some more tributes that poured in for Pele:
Inputs from AFP