‘Before Pele, ’10’ Was Just A Number’: Tributes Pour In For Football Legend

In this file photo taken on June 13, 1961, Brazilian striker Pelé, wearing his Santos jersey, smiles before playing a friendly soccer match with his club against the French club of “Racing”, in Colombes, in the suburbs of Paris. (Photo by AFP)


Tributes have continued to pour in following the death of Brazilian football great Pele. 

Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, the three-time World Cup winner who masterminded the “beautiful game,” died at the age of 82, his family said Thursday.

Named athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999, Pele is the only footballer in history to win three World Cups — 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Nicknamed “O Rei” (The King), he scored more than 1,000 goals in one of the most storied careers in sport, before retiring in 1977.

He had been in increasingly fragile health, battling kidney problems and colon cancer — undergoing surgery for the latter in September 2021, followed by chemotherapy.

Below are the tributes from footballers and others about the late Pele:


Football legend Pele, who died Thursday at the age of 82, “transformed football into an art,” said Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar in a tribute to his country’s greatest sporting icon.

“Before Pele, ’10’ was just a number,” the heir to Pele’s famed jersey number wrote on Instagram, alongside two pictures of himself with the late legend.

“But that beautiful sentence is incomplete. I would say that before Pele, football was just a sport. He transformed football into an art, into entertainment… Football and Brazil gained status thanks to the King. He has gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!”

Mbappe says Pele’s legacy ‘will never be forgotten’

France star Kylian Mbappe said on Thursday that Pele’s legacy “will never be forgotten” after the Brazil legend died at the age of 82.

Mbappe, who received a message of congratulations from Pele when he played in his first World Cup in 2018, tweeted: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING.”

Hurst hails Pele as ‘best ever’ after Brazil icon’s death

Former England World Cup winner Geoff Hurst hailed Pele as the “greatest of all time” after the Brazil legend died aged 82 on Thursday.

Hurst played against Pele in the 1970 World Cup and rated the forward as the best he ever faced.

Brazil won that goup stage match in Mexico 1-0 and went on to lift the World Cup as Pele got his hands on the trophy for a third and final time.

“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),” Hurst tweeted.

“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.”

Hurst’s record as the only man to score a World Cup final hat-trick — in England’s 4-2 victory against West Germany in 1966 — was equalled by France’s Kylian Mbappe when Les Bleus were beaten on penalties by Argentina in the title match in Qatar earlier in December.

Ronaldo’s Tribute

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo wrote that Pele was an inspiration to millions across the globe.

“My deep condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Edson Arantes do Nascimento. A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that the entire football world is currently embracing,” he wrote.

“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 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 🙏🏽⚽️🇧🇷”

NY Cosmos: Pele’s ‘lasting impact… is inestimable’

Brazilian football icon Pele, who brought the “beautiful game” to America in the 1970s and became a sensation with the New York Cosmos, was hailed by the club Thursday as a “genius” player who transformed the sport.

“Pele’s name will forever be synonymous with sporting artistry and genius,” the Cosmos said in a statement posted on their website.

“His lasting impact on the sport of soccer is inestimable. Rest in peace, O Rei.”

Pele played for the Cosmos from 1975-1977 after an epic career with Santos.

‘Rest in peace, Pele,’ Argentina’s Messi on Instagram

Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi bid Brazilian football hero Pele farewell on Instagram Thursday, posting photos of himself and “The King” taken in happier times.

“Rest in peace, Pele,” Messi wrote after the announcement that Pele had died in hospital at the age of 82 after a fight with cancer.

Pele ‘immortal’, says world football’s governing body FIFA

FIFA, world football’s governing body, said Pele was simply “immortal” after the Brazil legend, named by FIFA as the greatest player of the 20th century, died on Thursday aged 82.

“Pele: immortal — forever with us,” FIFA said on its website.

‘Thank you, Pele,’ says Brazil’s Lula

Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva paid tribute to football legend Pele after the country’s greatest sporting icon died Thursday at age 82, saying “there was never another number 10 like him.”

Lula, who is due to take office Sunday, tweeted that he had relished the privilege of watching Pele play live, writing, “Few Brazilians have taken our country’s name as far as he did… He didn’t just play. He put on an all-out show.

“Thank you, Pele,” he added.


Leave a Reply