Pelé was remembered for a life beyond the pitch, for transcending the sport of soccer and becoming perhaps the best-known person on Earth.
«Before Pelé, ’10’ was just a number» Neymar, current striker for Brazil, wrote Next the death of the football great on Thursday at the age of 82. “That line, beautiful, is incomplete. I would say that before Pelé, football was just a sport. Pelé changed everything. He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave a voice to the poor, to the blacks and above all he gave visibility to Brazil. Soccer and Brazil raised their position thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will endure.»
Pelé scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup games and is the only three-time world champion, winning titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970. His death was especially shocking to the generations of Brazilian players who idolized him.
«Today Brazil bids farewell to one of its most illustrious sons», Romario wrote, a 1994 World Cup champion who used Pelé’s full name in his post. “Edson Arantes do Nascimento made the world bow to his talent and brought Brazilian soccer to the altar of the gods. Throughout his life, Pelé inspired generations of athletes and deserves every tribute ”.
Ronaldo, who led Brazil to a fifth World Cup title in 2002, described Pelé as “Unique. Genius. Expert. Creative. Perfect. Peerless.»
«What a privilege to go after you, my friend» ronaldo wrote. “Your talent is a school that every player should go through. Your legacy transcends generations. And that is the way you will continue to live.”
Pele was a revered sports figure on a level probably not comparable to any other athlete than Muhammad Ali. As comfortable mingling with heads of state and celebrities as he was evading defenders, Pelé made an impact in capitals on every continent.
«As one of the world’s most renowned athletes, he understood the power of sport to bring people together.» Former US President Barack Obama wrote.
President Joe Biden tweeted: “For a sport that unites the world like no other, Pelé’s rise from humble beginnings to soccer legend is a story of what is possible.”
Pelé’s biggest impact was in Brazil, a unifying figure celebrated during the 2014 World Cup.
«I saw Pelé play, live, in Pacaembu and Morumbi (stadiums)», the former president of Brazil and current president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wrote. «Play, no. I saw Pelé put on a show. Because when the ball came to him, he always did something special, which often ended in a goal. … Few Brazilians carried the name of our country as far as he did. As different from Portuguese as one’s own language, foreigners from the four corners of the planet soon found a way to pronounce the magic word: ‘Pelé’”.
For half a century, people who knew the name of a single footballer knew Pelé.
«He made people dream and he continued to do so with generations and generations of lovers of our sport,» France coach Didier Deschamps said in a statement. “Who as a child did not dream of being Pelé? … Pelé was the alliance of beauty and efficiency. His talent and his list of accomplishments will be etched in our minds forever.»
French soccer star Kylian Mbappe tied Pele for sixth in career World Cup goals with a hat trick in this month’s loss to Argentina in the final. Four years ago, Mbappé became the second teenager, after Pelé, to score a goal in a World Cup final.
«The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten» Mbappé wrote.
«Pelé not only filled soccer stadiums with jubilation, but filled hearts and homes with hope and the knowledge that adversity was surmountable,» South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement on Friday. “His resilience from him and his impact on the field of play inspired the resilience with which Pelé worked for peace and justice globally.”
When Pelé’s condition worsened last month during the World Cup in Qatar, get well messages were displayed on the sides of buildings in Doha. The English Football Association lit up the Wembley Stadium goal in the colors of Brazil on Wednesday night. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, changed the home page of its website with photos of Pelé against a black background.
«Pelé did things that no other player would even dream of» wrote FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “The sight of him punching the air in celebration is one of the most iconic in our sport and etched in our history. In fact, because televised soccer was still in its infancy at the time, we only got small glimpses of what it was capable of.
When Pelé played for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League from 1975 to 1977, he helped fuel the rise of soccer in the United States, leading the nation to host the World Cup in 1994.
“Pele was truly a remarkable figure, on and off the field,” said Sunil Gulati, a FIFA Council member and former president of the USA Soccer Federation. “The world has lost a once-in-a-lifetime athlete who He leaves an extraordinary legacy.»