Football greats led the flood of tributes to Pelé after he died aged 82 following a colon cancer battle.
Sir Geoff Hurst, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Gary Lineker were among those who hailed the three-time World Cup winning record breaker – nicknamed ‘The King’ – in the minutes after his daughter announced he had passed away on Thursday. (29.12.22)
Sir Geoff, 81, who became the first man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final at 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.”
PSG and Brazil star Neymar, 31, who wears the No10 for Brazil and equalised Pelé’s scoring record for Brazil at the World Cup, said on Instagram: “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 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."
Marcus Rashford, 25, was also among those leading a flood of tributes, and said online: “Rest easy king.”
Lineker, 62, said: “Pelé has died. The most divine of footballers and joyous of men.
“He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to. 3 times he lifted the most coveted gold trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us but he’ll always have footballing immortality. RIP Pelé.”