Soccer stars pay tribute as Pele bids goodbye


By Oghale Mafuru

The world all over have bade farewell in a mixed trail of dirge and eulogy to the legendary football mega star, an iconic football brand, Pele as he bowed out after years of battling with colon cancer.

Football greats led the flood of tributes to Pelé after the man widely regarded as the Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T) died at age 82.

Following the announcement of his demise by his daughter, Geoff Hurst, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, and Gary Lineker wasted no time to extol the three-time World Cup winning record breaker – nicknamed “The King”.

In a tribute, Hurst, 81, who became the first man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final in England’s 4–2 victory over West Germany at Wembley Stadium in 1966, said: “I have so many memories of Pelé, without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside.) For me, Pelé remains the greatest of all time, and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pelé, and thank you.”

Commenting via an Instagram post PSG and Brazil star Neymar, 31, who wears the No. 10 for Brazil and equalled Pelé’s scoring record for Brazil at the World Cup, stated: “Before Pelé, 10 was just a number. I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life.

“Gave voice to the poor, blacks and mostly: Gave visibility to Brazil. Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone, but his magic remains. Pelé is FOREVER.”

Ronaldo, 37, said 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 yesterday, today, and forever. The love you always showed me was reciprocated in every moment we shared, even from a distance.

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

Mbappé, 24, posted alongside a photo of his hero: “The king of football has left us, but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING.”

Messi, 35, regarded with Pelé as one of two of the best footballers in history, said on Instagram alongside pictures of him with ‘The King’: “Rest in peace.”

Lineker, 62, said: “Pelé has died. The most divine of footballers and joyous of men.”

The former England international, who finished as the top scorer at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, added: “He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to. 3 times he lifted the most coveted golf trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us, but he’ll always have footballing immortality. RIP Pelé.”

Football enthusiasts also took to their social media platforms to extol the greatest player in history.

Wiebe Boer, President of Calvin University said: “Rest In Power to the one and only Greatest Of All Time. A true legend and a man who transcended sport and country.
A global icon. I once walked by him in the Four Seasons lobby in NYC. I couldn’t believe it was him. No entourage. No security. No big drama. He was already gone before it sank in who I had just seen. He inspired generations and will continue to do so long after his death.”

Augustine Naanmak, CEO, TAPAUST NIG Ltd said: “The greatest and the most loved soccer player that ever lived.Thank God for giving the world a unifier after Jesus. Pele brought the world together where there is no race,religion, no tribe ,language etc barrier in loving him. Love for Pele cut across. Rest on dear, king of the pitch. Peleee!”

Eduardo Browne, Chairman, Agilis Partners stated: “He was an amazing player I looked up to ,watched his magic and remembered saying his full name out of respect for what he brought to the game . I saw him scoring his 1000 goal. An artist with the ball – may he rest in peace – he will never be forgotten.”

Pele originally named Edson Arantes do Nascimento was an interesting sensation on the pitch who brought great honour to his country, Brazil through uncommon expertise in the 50s, winning the World Cup three times, in 1958, 1962 and 1970 making him the only player to achieve such feat in the history of the competition.

He began his career at age of 15, playing for Santos and the Brazilian national team a year later. He entered the world football scene as a 17-year-old in the 1958 World Cup. The former Santos FC star, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest footballers of all time, was announced dead after a struggle with colon cancer since September 2021.


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