Arguably the greatest player to play football, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele (82), breathed his last at a Sao Paulo hospital on Thursday after losing a prolonged battle against cancer.
The three-time World Cup winner had a colon tumour removed in September 2021 and neither his family, nor doctors, specified whether it had spread to other organs. He was recently under ‘elevated care’ related to kidney and cardiac dysfunction.
Portuguese soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo paid a heart-touching tribute to the ‘Black Pearl’, soon after the news of his demise was made public.
Taking to his Instagram handle, Ronaldo wrote: “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 Pele 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 distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will live forever in each and every one of us football lovers. Rest in peace.”
Taking to Twitter, France’s World Cup winner and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe said, “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING.”
Former England striker Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the final of the 1966 World Cup to lead his team to 4-2 win over West Germany, said: ” 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.”
Croatian midfielder and former Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic tweeted, “Your legacy is eternal. Thank you for everything. Vive O Rei.”