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Tributes to football legend Pelé poured in from prominent figures around the world following the Brazilian's death on Dec. 29, 2022.
He was 82.
Tributes from current football players
Messi, who recently lifted the World Cup trophy for Argentina, posted pictures of him with Pelé on Instagram, along with the caption: "Rest in peace, @pele.”
Cristiano Ronaldo offered his condolences to all of Brazil, particularly to Pelé's family.
He wrote on Instagram:
"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 of yesterday, today, and forever.
The love [Pelé] 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."
France's star player Mbappé, who plays for French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), dedicated a post to Pelé on his Twitter and Instagram pages, saying: "The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten."
The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten.— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) December 29, 2022
RIP KING 💔👑… pic.twitter.com/F55PrcM2Ud
Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, who plays for Manchester City, said that "everything you see any player [do], Pelé did it first".
Everything you see any player doing, Pelé did it first. RIP ⚽️🤴🏿 pic.twitter.com/SeW0z1hQTm— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) December 29, 2022
Poland and FC Barcelona striker Lewandowski described Pelé as a "champion", adding that "heaven has a new star".
Rest in peace Champion 🙏🏼— Robert Lewandowski (@lewy_official) December 29, 2022
Heaven has a new star, and the football world lost a hero. pic.twitter.com/t6U2vV1QY4
Spanish centre-back Sergio Ramos said: "To say [Pelé] was a legend is an understatement... Football will always remember you."
View this post on Instagram
Liverpool forward Mo Salah wrote on Instagram: "Farewell to a legend of football."
Tributes from current Brazil national team
PSG Brazilian forward Neymar said on Instagram that Pelé had "changed it all".
Neymar, who is currently the all-time Brazilian joint record top goal-scorer with Pelé, added:
"Before Pelé, 10 was just a number. I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, while beautiful, is incomplete. I would say before Pelé, football was just a sport.
Pelé had changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment. [He] gave voice to the poor, blacks and most importantly, [he] gave visibility to Brazil."
Brazil and Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison, who excelled in the recent Qatar World Cup, said that Pelé's death marks the end of football's "most beautiful chapter".
Hoje o futebol se despede do seu capítulo mais bonito. Do cara que dedicou seu milésimo gol ás crianças, parou guerras e mostrou pra um país inteiro que ele podia mais. Você é e sempre será incomparável e eterno, Rei. Obrigado e que Deus te receba de braços abertos 😢 pic.twitter.com/jNLmAcXgpz— Richarlison Andrade (@richarlison97) December 29, 2022
Brazilian winger Vinícius Jr., who plays for Real Madrid, referred to Pelé as "king", "majesty", and "an example" on Instagram.
"His legacy will never be forgotten. Pelé is timeless," Vinícius added.
Brazil captain and Chelsea centre-back Thiago Silva described Pelé as the "king of football" who changed the history of the sport.
Forever the King of football, the Legend! 👑 Rest in peace, Pelé. 🙏— Thiago Silva (@tsilva3) December 29, 2022
You have changed the History of football. Your legacy will always be in our hearts.
Thanks for everything!#ThiagoSilva #TS6 #OhhhThiagoSilva #Pelé #ReiPelé #PeléEterno pic.twitter.com/lobQlPreQg
Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro, who plays for Manchester United, took to Twitter to thank Pelé for the "glory" he gave to Brazil.
Descanse em paz, Rei Pelé. Obrigado pela glória que você deu ao Brasil e ao futebol. Seu legado é eterno. ⭐⭐⭐ pic.twitter.com/ehn9Ouk4ht— Casemiro (@Casemiro) December 29, 2022
Brazilian winger Antony, who also plays for Man United, wrote on his Instagram and Twitter pages: "The biggest of all! The king, the inspiration, the example, the only one, the eternal!!"
O maior de todos! O Rei, a inspiração, o exemplo, o único, o ETERNO!! 👑 @Pele pic.twitter.com/rm8ptubPC2— Antony Santos (@antony00) December 29, 2022
Brazil forward Rodrygo, who, like Pelé, began his professional football career in Brazilian club Santos, said on Instagram that Dec. 29 will "always be a sad date" for him.
He added: "We grow up in Santos hearing people talk about you every day — how good you were playing and as a person. Thank God I had the opportunity to meet you in person, it was one of the most special days of my life! Thank you King."
Brazilian right-back Dani Alves wrote on Instagram: "When we complete our mission, God takes us back with him. Rest in peace, king. My condolences to all the families."
Tributes from former footballers
Brazilian legend and former FIFA World Player of the year Ronaldo wrote in an Instagram post:
"Unique. Cool. Technical. Creative. Perfect. One of a kind. Where Pelé arrived, he stayed. Without ever leaving the top, he leaves us today. The king of football - only one. The greatest of all time.
The world is mourning. The sadness of parting mixed with the immense pride of the written history. What a privilege to come after you, my friend. Your talent is a school every player should go through. Your legacy will transcend generations. And that's how it will stay alive. Today and always, we celebrate you."
Another Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos thanked Pelé for "everything [he] did for us".
In an Instagram post, England's former captain Beckham said that football was "his (Pelé's) beautiful game".
Pelé famously referred to football as "the beautiful game" in his 1977 autobiography.
The phrase was then popularised and is still being used to describe the sport by players, commentators, and pundits around the world.
Former Brazilian star Ronaldinho offered his condolences to Pelé's family.
"Rest in eternal peace, king," he added on Instagram.
Another one of Brazil's former star players Rivaldo said on Twitter that he is grateful that Pelé was a Brazilian.
"Our football is known and respected worldwide for everything [Pelé] has done on the field and will never be forgotten," said Rivaldo.
Sou grato à Deus por @Pele ser brasileiro.— RIVALDO FERREIRA (@RIVALDOOFICIAL) December 29, 2022
O nosso futebol é conhecido e respeitado mundialmente por tudo que ele fez em campo e jamais será esquecido. Tenho orgulho em ter jogado duas Copas do Mundo com o número 10, que foi consagrado por ele.
Rei Pelé, teu legado é eterno. pic.twitter.com/4jGK2SlkzN
French professional football manager and former player Zidane described Pelé as "eternal" on Instagram.
Former England and Liverpool skipper Gerrard, who is now a professional football manager, also dedicated an Instagram post to Pelé.
View this post on Instagram
Robin van Persie
Former Netherlands captain and player Robin van Persie described Pelé as "an icon".
Football lost an icon today.. Thank you for everything and rest in peace legend 🙏⚽️ pic.twitter.com/lHpAreBxO6— Robin van Persie (@Persie_Official) December 29, 2022
Denmark's most capped football player Peter Schmeichel said that Pelé "made the world fall in love with football".
You made the world fall in love with football. Rest in peace, Pelé ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5NQFunMr8C— Peter Schmeichel (@Pschmeichel1) December 29, 2022
Tributes from other athletes
Spanish professional tennis player Rafael Nadal said on Twitter that Pelé's legacy "will always remain".
"I didn't see him play, I wasn't that lucky, but they always taught me and told me that he was the king of football," said Nadal.
Hoy se vuelve a ir un grande del deporte mundial. Un día triste para el mundo del fútbol, para el mundo del deporte. Su legado siempre quedará.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) December 29, 2022
No le vi jugar, no tuve esa suerte, pero siempre me enseñaron y me dijeron que fue el Rey del fútbol.
DEP #ORei #Pele 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/E4mKdu8gBt
F1 driver Lewis Hamilton dedicated a few Instagram stories to Pelé.
Retired Jamaican sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt described Pelé as a "sporting legend".
A Sporting Legend.— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) December 29, 2022
Rest in Peace King Pele 🕊️ pic.twitter.com/AmehPBOR30
Tributes from leaders around the world
Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is due to take office in January 2023, tweeted that he had relished the privilege of watching Pele play live.
He added in a Twitter thread: "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."
Eu tive o privilégio que os brasileiros mais jovens não tiveram: eu vi o Pelé jogar, ao vivo, no Pacaembu e Morumbi. Jogar, não. Eu vi o Pelé dar show. Porque quando pegava na bola ele sempre fazia algo especial, que muitas vezes acabava em gol.— Lula (@LulaOficial) December 29, 2022
📸: @ricardostuckert pic.twitter.com/YQs3K119t9
Current Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro said that Pelé brought pride to Brazil.
"He turned football into art and joy," Bolsonaro added on Twitter.
- Com pesar o passamento de um homem, que pelo futebol, levou o nome do Brasil para o mundo. Transformou o futebol em arte e alegria.— Jair M. Bolsonaro 2️⃣2️⃣ (@jairbolsonaro) December 29, 2022
- Que Deus conforte sua família e que o acolha na sua infinita misericórdia. pic.twitter.com/AVlw5IDUHX
U.S. president Joe Biden tweeted that Pelé's journey to success is "a story of what is possible".
For a sport that brings the world together like no other, Pelé’s rise from humble beginnings to soccer legend is a story of what is possible.— President Biden (@POTUS) December 29, 2022
Today, Jill and I's thoughts are with his family and all those who loved him. pic.twitter.com/EkDDkqQgLo
President of France Emmanuel Macron also dedicated a tweet to Pelé.
Le Jeu. Le Roi. L’Éternité.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 29, 2022
O Jogo. O Rei. A Eternidade. pic.twitter.com/ZjeaF7zIGx
Former U.S. president Barack Obama shared a picture he took with Pelé, saying:
"Pelé was one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game. And as one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he understood the power of sports to bring people together."
Pelé was one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game. And as one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he understood the power of sports to bring people together. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone who loved and admired him. pic.twitter.com/urGRDePaPv— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 29, 2022
Another former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, described Pelé as a football legend, a humanitarian, and a global icon.
Clinton added: "He used his platform to empower disenfranchised children and inspire generations around the world. We give thanks for his life and legacy."
Pelé was not only a football legend but also a humanitarian and global icon. He used his platform to empower disenfranchised children and inspire generations around the world. We give thanks for his life and legacy. pic.twitter.com/X9UpOMH2eI— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) December 29, 2022
Closer to home, president of the Singapore National Olympic Council and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin dedicated a long Facebook and Instagram post to the football legend.
"If there ever was an icon for football, Pele would be it. He electrified the world with his skills and guile, he inspired generations of great footballers with his magic and joy, and he made us all fall in love with this beautiful game. It wasn’t just a contest on a field with 22 players , running helter skelter, chasing after a leather ball. It was poetry in motion, a full blooded passionate gladiatorial battle, a sublime contest of wits and wills."
Top images from leomessi/IG & KMbappe/Twitter.
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