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‘He turned football into art’: Reactions to death of football great Pele

Pele, the Brazilian king of football who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century, has died aged 82.

The standard-bearer of “the beautiful game” had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021. The medical centre where he had been hospitalised for the last month said he died of multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer on Thursday. 

Following are reactions to his death:

President-elect of Brazil, Lula

I had the privilege that younger Brazilians didn’t have: I saw Pele play, live, at Pacaembu and Morumbi. Play, no. I saw Pele give a show. Because when he got the ball he always did something special, which often ended up in a goal. I confess that I was angry with Pele, because he always massacred my Corinthians. But, first and foremost, I admired him …. Few Brazilians took the name of our country as far as he did.

Roberto Rivellino, teammate of Pele

Your place is on God’s side. My eternal king. Rest in peace. 

Two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo

Unique. Genius. Skilled. Creative. Perfect. Unmatched. Wherever Pele went, he stayed. Without ever leaving the top, he leaves us today. The king of football — the only. The greatest of all time.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino

Pele: Immortal — forever with us

Brazil forward Neymar

Before Pele, “10” was just a number. I read that phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But that phrase, beautiful, is incomplete. I’d say before Pele, football was just a sport. Pele changed everything. He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: It gave visibility to Brazil. Football and Brazil have elevated their status thanks to the King! He’s gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!!

Brazil captain Thiago Silva

Rest in peace ‘Rei’ (King), God bless all his family

NY Cosmos 

Pele’s name will forever be synonymous with sporting artistry and genius.
His lasting impact on the sport of soccer is inestimable. Rest in peace, O Rei. 

Didier Deschamps, former player and manager of French national team

With the death of Pele, football has lost one of its greatest legends, if not the greatest. Like all legends, the King seemed immortal. He made people dream and continued to do that with generations and generations of lovers of our sport. Who, as a child, didn’t dream of being Pele?

Argentina captain Lionel Messi

Rest in peace, @pele

READ MORE: Brazil football legend Pele dies at age 82

Brazilian football confederation

Pele was much more than the greatest sportsman of all time. The King of Soccer was the ultimate exponent of a victorious Brazil, never afraid of any difficulty. A black, poor boy born in Tres Coracoes, Pele showed us that there is always a new path. He promised his father he would win a World Cup and he won us three, in addition to scoring 95 goals in 113 games with Brazil’s national team. The King gave us a new Brazil and we can only thank him for his legacy. Thank you, Pele.

The Pele Foundation

Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who peacefully passed away today. On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love.

His message today becomes a legacy for future generations.

Love, love and love, forever.

Argentina President Alberto Fernandez

One of the greatest footballers in history has left us. We will always remember those years when Pele dazzled the world with his skills. A big hug to his family and to the people of Brazil who will carry him in their hearts.

Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo

A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that embraces the whole world of football at this moment. An inspiration for so many millions, a reference of yesterday, of today, of always. The affection he always showed for me was reciprocated in all the moments we shared, even at a distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will last forever in each one of us, football lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.

France striker Kylian Mbappe

The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten.

Pele’s family spend Christmas Eve with the legend in hospital 

Former England player Geoff Hurst

I have so many memories of Pele, without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside). For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.

Brazil’s lower house speaker Arthur Lira

Brazil and the world mourn the death of our eternal number 10, the greatest soccer player of all time. I send his family my sympathies and convey, on behalf of the Lower House, a tribute to a symbol that honored and dignified Brazil and its people. The king of soccer for the whole world. Pele, the man, leaves us. But the eternal Pele will live forever.

Ex-England player Gary Lineker

Pele has died. The most divine of footballers and joyous of men. He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to. 3 times he lifted the most coveted gold trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us but he will always have footballing immortality. 

Cesar Luis Menotti, Pele teammate in Santos football club

It will be very difficult to find another Pele. Pele had everything a player should have. Agile, jumped like no one, could kick with both legs, physically very strong and brave. There was no one like Pele. 

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