Football stars pay tribute to Pelé after his death at 82: ‘The king of football’

Tributes poured in on Thursday after soccer legend Pele, who won three World Cups with Brazil, died aged 82 from cancer.

Pelé, whose real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was one of the most popular athletes in the world and sparked the growth of interest and participation in football in the United States by playing for the New York Cosmos in the North American Football League at the end of his career.

“Before Pelé, ’10’ was just a number. I read this sentence somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, beautiful, is incomplete, “wrote Neymar, Brazilian football star of 30 years old, in Portuguese on Instagram, according to a translation: “I would say that before Pelé, football was just a sport. Pelé changed everything. He turned football into art, into entertainment.
He gave a voice to the poor, to blacks and above all: He gave visibility to Brazil. Football and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will remain. Pelé is ETERNAL!! »

Brazilians Neymar (r.) and Marquinhos (l.) hold a banner in support of Pelé during the World Cup on December 5, 2022.
Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo wrote a heartfelt message on his Instagram.

“My deepest condolences to all of Brazil, and especially to the family of Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento,” Ronaldo wrote in Portuguese. “A simple ‘goodbye’ to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that currently grips everyone in football. An inspiration for so many millions, a reference of yesterday, today, forever “The affection he always showed me was reciprocated in every moment we shared, even from a distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will remain etched forever in all of us, football lovers. Rest in peace. Peace, King Pelé.

More and more current football stars have taken to social media to honor Pelé.

Lionel Messi (second from left) smiles next to Pelé (c.) after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or on January 9, 2012.
Lionel Messi (second from left) smiles next to Pelé (c.) after winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or on January 9, 2012.
AFP via Getty Images

“Rest in peace, @pele,” recent World Cup winner Lionel Messi wrote on Instagram.

“The king of football left us a legacy that will never be forgotten,” French football star Kylian Mbappe wrote on Instagram. “RIP KING.”

Former Brazilian star Ronaldo, whose full name is Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, has dubbed Pelé “unmatched”.

Brazil's Pelé with the ball in the 1970 World Cup Final against Italy.
Brazil’s Pelé with the ball in the 1970 World Cup Final against Italy.
Mirrorpix via Getty Images

“Alone. Super. Technician. Creative. Perfect. Unrivaled. Where Pelé arrived, he remained. Never having left the top, he leaves us today. The king of football – one. The greatest of all times,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram. “The world of mourning. The sadness of separation mingled with the immense pride of written history. What a privilege to follow you, my friend. Your talent is a school that every player should go through. His legacy transcends generations. And that is how he will live. Today and always, we will celebrate you. Thank you, Pelé. Rest in peace.”

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