France star Kylian Mbappe said on Thursday that Pele’s legacy “will never be forgotten” after the Brazil legend died at the age of 82.
Mbappe, who received a message of congratulations from Pele when he played in his first World Cup in 2018, tweeted: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING.”
Pele “transformed football into an art,” said Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar in a tribute to his country’s greatest sporting icon.
“Before Pele, ’10’ was just a number,” the heir to Pele’s famed jersey number wrote on Instagram, alongside two pictures of himself with the late legend.
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“But that beautiful sentence is incomplete. I would say that before Pele, football was just a sport. He transformed football into an art, into entertainment… Football and Brazil gained status thanks to the King. He has gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!”
On his part, Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi bid Brazilian football hero Pele farewell on Instagram Thursday, posting photos of himself and “The King” taken in happier times.
“Rest in peace, Pele,” Messi wrote after the announcement that Pele had died in the hospital at the age of 82 after a fight with cancer.
Similarly, Cristiano Ronaldo hailed Pele as a “source of inspiration for so many millions”.
“He is a reference yesterday, today and forever. The love you always showed me was reciprocated in every moment we shared, even from distance,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram after the Brazilian legend passed away at the age of 82.
Ronaldo added: “He will never be forgotten and his memory will live forever in each and every one of us football lovers. Rest in peace King Pele.”
Greatest of all time
A former England World Cup winner Geoff Hurst hailed Pele as the “greatest of all time”.
Hurst played against Pele in the 1970 World Cup, with Brazil winning a group stage match between the two countries 1-0, and rated the forward as the best he ever faced.
“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),” Hurst tweeted.
“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.”
Hurst’s record as the only man to score a World Cup final hat-trick – in England’s 4-2 victory against West Germany in 1966 – was equalled by Mbappe in Qatar.