Pele, the Brazilian soccer legend who died of cancer Wednesday at age 82, is widely regarded as one of the best players in sports history.
His numerous accolades include being the only player to win three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and being the most prolific goal-scorer in Brazil’s history by netting 77 goals, a record he shares with Neymar. In 1999, the International Olympic Committee elected Pele the Athlete of the Century, while he was also selected as FIFA Player of the Century in 2000, jointly with Diego Maradona of Argentina.
Tributes pouring in for him from across the soccer world is another testament to his stature.
Gianni Infantino -- FIFA President
Gianni Infantino, the leader of the world soccer’s governing body, posted his message about the Brazilian great in the article titled “Immortal - forever with us.”
“For everyone who loves the beautiful game, this is the day we never wanted to come. The day we lost Pele,” he wrote, continuing by stating various ways in which “O Rei (The King)” was unique.
“Pele had a magnetic presence and, when you were with him, the rest of the world stopped. His life is about more than football. He changed perceptions for the better in Brazil, in South America and across the world.”
Franz Beckenbauer -- German soccer legend, former club teammate
“Today, football lost the greatest man in its history -- and I lost a unique friend,” wrote German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, who played alongside Pele in the late 1970s in the US league near the end of their careers, on the website of Bayern Munich of which he is the honorary president.
He said playing with Pele was “one of the greatest experiences of his career,” and that Pele calling him was an “unimaginable honor” for him. “Football will always belong to you! You will always be here. Thank you for your game, O Rei!”
Lionel Messi -- 2022 World Cup winner
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, winner of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Golden Ball honors, posted a picture of him and Pele on his Instagram with a simple message “Rest in peace, @pele.”
There is a fierce debate in the soccer world about who is the greatest soccer player of all time, between Pele, Messi and Diego Maradona.
Cristiano Ronaldo -- Portuguese soccer superstar
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo honored Pele by posting a picture of him receiving an award from Pele, with condolences to Brazil and the bereaved family. He described how Pele was an inspiration for so many around the world.
“A mere ‘goodbye’ to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that currently embraces the entire world of football. He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever in each of us football lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.”
Kylian Mbappe -- 2018 World Cup winner
Kylian Mbappe of France wrote on his Instagram page that “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten.” The winner of the FIFA World Cup in 2018, the French superstar came up huge in the 2022 event as well with a hat-trick in the final loss against Argentina.
Thiago Silva -- Brazilian defender
Another of Pele’s compatriots, Thiago Silva posted the famous image of Pele doing an overhead kick on his Twitter account. He wrote, “Forever the King of football, the Legend! Rest in peace, Pele.”
“You have changed the history of football. Your legacy will always be in our hearts. Thanks for everything!”
England's Football Association
England’s Football Association will light up its iconic Wembley Arch, at the famous Wembley Stadium in London, in the colors of Brazil as a tribute to Pele.
“Everyone who loves football, loves Pele. … His unique talent lit up the game, and inspired football. Our thoughts are with his family, the Brazil Football Confederation and the Brazilian people,” the FA said.
Geoff Hurst -- English soccer legend
Geoff Hurst, who faced off against Pele in the international stages during his career, said Pele is “without a doubt the best footballer I ever played against.
“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.”