Kylian Mbappe and Neymar lead emotional tributes to ‘greatest of all time’ Pele after football icon dies

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar lead emotional tributes to ‘greatest of all time’ Pele after football icon dies

Tributes have been paid from the world of football and beyond after Brazilian icon Pele died aged 82.

The three-time World Cup winner spent Christmas in hospital as his cancer worsened, while he also required treatment for heart and kidney problems.

Pele’s family confirmed he died on Thursday afternoon at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo.

They posted in a statement on social media: “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.”

Cristiano Ronaldo was among those to pay tribute to the Brazilian, widely considered to be the greatest to ever play the game.

He posted: “My deepest condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento.

“A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that currently embraces the entire world of football.

In Pictures | Pele

Pele: Netflix (Netflix)
Pele: Netflix (Netflix)
Pele with the World Cup in 2015 (Getty Images)
Pele with the World Cup in 2015 (Getty Images)
Pele wearing his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele wearing his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil’s Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, June 21, 1970 (AP)
Brazil’s Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, June 21, 1970 (AP)
Brazilian soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele cries during his marriage to Brazilian Assiria Seixas Lemos on 30 April 1994 in Recife, Brazi (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele cries during his marriage to Brazilian Assiria Seixas Lemos on 30 April 1994 in Recife, Brazi (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele with the World Cup in Mexico City, 1970. Pele scored the first of his team's goals in the match (Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Pele with the World Cup in Mexico City, 1970. Pele scored the first of his team's goals in the match (Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Brazilian striker Pele (Getty Images)
Brazilian striker Pele (Getty Images)
Brazilian forward Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match vs Malmoe in 1960 (AFP/Getty Images)
Brazilian forward Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match vs Malmoe in 1960 (AFP/Getty Images)
Pele as a goalkeeper during a training session in 1963 (Getty Images)
Pele as a goalkeeper during a training session in 1963 (Getty Images)
Pele stands by a display to celebrate his 1000th professional goal in 1969 (Getty Images)
Pele stands by a display to celebrate his 1000th professional goal in 1969 (Getty Images)
Pele shoots for goal vs Czechoslovakia in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (Getty Images)
Pele shoots for goal vs Czechoslovakia in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (Getty Images)

“An inspiration for so many millions, a reference from yesterday, today, forever. The affection he always showed for me was reciprocal in every moment we shared, even from a distance.

“He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever in each of us football lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.”

England World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst posted: “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 the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”

Gary Lineker said: “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.

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“3 times he lifted the most coveted gold trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us but he’ll always have footballing immortality.”

“A Sporting Legend. Rest in Peace King Pele,” Usain Bolt tweeted.

In a post on Instagram, Neymar said: “Before Pele, ‘10’ was only a number. I read this phrase somewhere, sometime in my life.

“But this phrase, beautiful, is incomplete. I would say that before Pele, football was solely a sport.

“Pele changed everything. He transformed football into art, into entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, to black people, and most importantly: He gave visibility to Brazil.

“Football and Brazil elevated their status thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will stay.

“Pele is eternal!!”

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Erling Haaland posted. “Everything you see any player doing, Pele did it first.”

Kylian Mbappe scored eight times in Qatar to move his total World Cup tally to 12, the same number of goals Pele scored.

The Frenchman tweeted: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten,” he tweeted. “RIP KING.”

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“Forever the King of football, the Legend! Rest in peace, Pele,” Thiago Silva wrote.

“You have changed the History of football. Your legacy will always be in our hearts. Thanks for everything!”

Franz Beckenbauer played with Pele for the New York Cosmos, an experience he has described as an “unimaginable honour”.

Pele and Franz Beckenbauer were team-mates at the New York Cosmos (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele and Franz Beckenbauer were team-mates at the New York Cosmos (AFP via Getty Images)

The Bayern Munich legend wrote: “Honorary Football has lost the greatest player in its history today - and I have lost a unique friend. Born in Três Corações, Pele had three hearts: for football, for his family and for everyone. Someone who played with the stars and always stayed grounded.

“I went to the USA in 1977 because I really wanted to play in a team with Pelé at New York Cosmos. That time alongside him was one of the greatest experiences of my career. We became North American champions at the first attempt, and from that moment on, Pele only ever called me his brother.

“That was an unimaginable honour for me. Football will always belong to you! You will always be here. Thank you for your game, O Rei!”