Pele’s influence on football will be ‘eternal’, says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Pele’s influence in the world game will be everlasting.

Three-times World Cup winner Pele, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, died in Sao Paulo on Thursday at the age of 82 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.

The Brazilian’s death has sparked a huge outpouring of affection and respect from around the globe.

Guardiola said: “On behalf of Manchester City, the biggest condolences for his family and friends. Football is football thanks to these types of people.

“Neymar said a great sentence when he said before (Pele) number 10 was just a number and after it became something special.

“Every top player wanted to wear number 10 in their team. What he has done for football is there and always will remain.

“It’s like a good movie, the legacy after many years. That we are still talking about him like a good movie or a good book is because he was so good.

Pele
Pele helped Brazil to win the World Cup three times (PA Archive)

“I think Pele, (Diego) Maradona, (Johan) Cruyff, (Lionel) Messi, (Franz) Beckenbauer, Cristiano Ronaldo – these type of players will be forever, they will be eternal.

“They have done many things in many years on the pitch and off it and with their teams and countries.

“These type of players make our business, our work, our job, however you want to say it, a better place because what he produced, what we have seen in the World Cup, what one team can produce can change 48 million people, the country. It’s unbelievable.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has also paid tribute.

The Dutchman told MUTV: “It’s really sad news. One of the biggest, maybe the biggest ever, passed away, so my condolences to his family and to the whole community of football.

“We lost a big personality, a great football player, a winner of three World Cup titles, (scorer of) over 1,200 goals.

“So it’s really massive. He was that elegant he changed the game and he was a gentleman in every aspect.”

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said the Brazilian players in his Gunners side, which include Gabriel Magalhaes, vice-captain Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Marquinhos, have been mourning the death of their compatriot.

He said: “We did talk about (his legacy) the other day and obviously they are very emotional because he’s one of the most popular figures in Brazil, and it’s a big loss.

“Obviously everything that I’ve seen of him and hear of him has been through videos and people who knew him personally, and a lot of relationships I’ve had always in football, but someone that probably changed the dimension of a single player in world football, because he could do a bit of everything.

“He was probably the most complete player that the game has ever seen, and it is a big loss. We had two big losses with him and Maradona in the last (two years).”

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe also hailed Pele’s impact on and off the pitch.

Howe said: “As a player, he was incredibly talented. You look back at his goals, they’re all different types – some of them were in black and white. Some of them are spectacular, some of them are tap-ins, he had a mixture.

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“A lot of them are headers as well – he was very good in the air, a very good spring for a small guy.

“As a footballer, although I was a defender, I love to watch goals, believe it or not, so it was a showreel of his goals and his best moments.

“But there are some iconic sporting moments. As a person, I never met him so I didn’t know him, but you look back at the sportsmanship, Bobby Moore at the end of the game in 1970, and those iconic images are so powerful and I’d give him a lot of credit for that as well.”

Howe is too young to remember Pele as a player, but was always well aware of his stature in the game.

He said: “I’ve seen videos, especially the England v Brazil game in 1970. In my era, you grew up knowing of Pele, thinking of him as the best player the world had ever seen at that moment.

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“It’s very, very sad. Whenever an icon passes away, it’s a very sad moment for football. Seeing the reaction of everybody, media, everyone connected with football, he’s certainly well remembered around the world.”

Such is Pele’s standing in Brazil that Howe will put an arm around compatriots Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton as the nation comes to terms with his loss.

He said: “I’ll chat with the Brazilian players that we have. He’s an absolute giant in Brazil for obvious reasons for what he achieved for the country, so I’ll certainly be having a conversation and speaking to them about him.”

Frank Lampard, the former England and Chelsea midfielder who is now manager of Everton, recognises the enormous impact Pele had in the game.

Lampard, 44, said: “There’s huge respect for him as a player and as a person, as all the responses since yesterday have shown. He was a great man as well as a great player.

“He was one of the greatest without doubt, so a sad day for football.

“The reach of his name in the game was obviously huge. It just gets bigger with age. We have lost him unfortunately but his name will continue for evermore because of his impact on the game.”

Spurs boss Antonio Conte learned all about Pele from his father.

He said: “The first person who spoke to me about Pele was my father. My father was in love with Pele because for him, he was the best player in the world and many times he spoke about him.

Antonio Conte grew up on stories of Pele
Antonio Conte grew up on stories of Pele (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Then I watched some games that he played and especially the final of the World Cup and some situations it was incredible what he did with the ball. The memories are this.

“For sure if I have to compare Pele with (Diego) Maradona, it is different because about Pele I listened, I had my father and I watched through the TV his quality and that he was an amazing player.

“About Maradona, I had the opportunity to play against him. Then to see and to touch his ability. But I repeat, Pele for my father was the best footballer in the world.”

The Premier League and EFL have said as a mark of respect, all games this weekend will see players wear black armbands with a minute’s applause prior to kick-off.