Lula and Obama join many fans in praising the late football ‘king’ for his historic influence on and off the pitch.
Politicians, athletes, clubs and commentators have joined in to mourn the deceased. Brazilian football legend Pelepraising his contributions and emphasizing that his memory will last as long as the game is played.
Pele, the only person to win the World Cup three times in history, died on Thursday at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer.
Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he has a privilege many young Brazilians do not experience: watching Pele play live.
“Very few Brazilians have taken the name of our country as far as he has… There has never been a 10 like him. Thank you, Pele,” Lula wrote in a social media post, referring to Pele’s shirt number.
You guys made the world fall in love with football. Rest in peace Pelé ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5NQFunMr8C
– Peter Schmeichel (@Pschmeichel1) December 29, 2022
Former US President Barack Obama has also praised Pele, calling him one of the greatest players to ever play the beautiful game.
“As one of the most famous athletes in the world, he understands the power of sport in bringing people together. Our thoughts go out to his family and all who loved and admired him,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
Pele is Dubbed “King”, scoring hundreds of goals in his star-studded career. His signature tricks and lightning speed helped revolutionize the game and increase soccer’s popularity globally.
In 2000, world football’s governing body, FIFA, named him player of the century alongside Argentina’s Diego Maradona, who passed away in 2020.
“Forever a legend. Rest in peace Pele,” Italian club AS Roma wrote on Twitter, while Manchester United expressed gratitude to the Brazilian footballer for bringing joy to fans around the world.
London-based club Chelsea FC on Thursday called Pele a “master of beautiful games”, and England defender Harry Maguire said Pele was a “model on and off the pitch”.
Pele has served since 1994 as a “sports champion” for the United Nations cultural organization, UNESCO, which promotes physical education worldwide.
On Thursday, UNESCO said Pele “worked tirelessly to promote sport as an instrument for peace”, adding that he would be missed.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pelé. We send our condolences to the Brazilian people and the football family,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
– Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) December 29, 2022
Pele’s playing career spanned more than 20 years, ending with the now-disbanded New York Cosmos in 1977. But even for the generations born long after he retired, Pele is synonymous with football.
“The king of football has left us but The legacy will never be forgotten,” French soccer star Kylian Mbappe, who in 2018, became the first teen player to score in a World Cup final since Pele.
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland summed up Pele’s influence on football by saying: “Everything you see any player do, Pele does first.”
US Congressman Adriano Espaillat also said Pele was a “transformative figure in 20th century sport” given the level of global fame he achieved. “May his legacy continue to inspire generations and his talent will be remembered forever. Rest in power,” Espaillat wrote in a social media post.
When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey in the ’70s, it was simply amazing for Pelé to come play for the New York Cosmos. Pelé was the reason I played football — or tried anyway — and have continued to follow football closely all these years later. RIP to the GOAT and legend, Pelé.
– Douglas Emhoff (@SecondGentleman) December 29, 2022