Pele has been described as “the king of football” and the “immortality of football” after the Brazilian legend died aged 82.
Tributes immediately poured in on social media, hailing his legacy both on and off the pitch after a glittering career that included three World Cups with the Selecao.
Former England forward Gary Lineker was among those to praise Pele’s impact, describing him as “the most divine of footballers”.
Lineker wrote: “Pele is dead. The most divine of footballers and the happiest of men. He played a match that only a select few have approached.
“Three times he lifted the most coveted gold trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us, but he will always have football immortality. RIP Pele.”
While French forward Kylian Mbappe, who has publicly stated how the Brazilian had a huge impact on his career, added: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING.”
While another great centre-forward, former Wales and Liverpool legend Ian Rush, described “a very sad day for football”.
Added: “[Pele was] an icon and a true great of the game who touched millions of people around the world with his football and personality will be remembered forever. Rest in peace, Pele. My thoughts are with his family.”
Brazil forward Neymar, who matched Pele’s record 77 international goals during the 2022 World Cup, posted his own emotional tribute on Instagram.
“Before Pelé, 10 was just a number. I have read this sentence somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, precious, is incomplete. I would say that before Pelé football was just a sport. Pele has changed everything,” Neymar said.
“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. Football and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone, but his magic lives on. Pele is FOREVER!!”
Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo posted a message on Instagram alongside a photo of himself with the Brazilian great expressing his “deepest condolences”.
Ronaldo said: “A simple ‘goodbye’ to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that is currently embracing the entire world of football.
“An inspiration for so many millions, a reference of yesterday, today, forever. The affection he always showed me was reciprocated in every moment we shared, even from a distance.
“He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever in all football lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.”
Argentina captain Lionel Messi simply wrote: “Rest in peace @pele.”
England and Manchester United star Marcus Rashford wrote: “Rest in peace king.” While England and Chelsea star Raheem Sterling added: “RIP Legend.”
Respect for Pelé transcended rivalries, with Argentine Osvaldo Ardiles calling him “the king of kings”.
The Tottenham legend added: “An extraordinary player. One of a kind. 3 times world cup winner, over a thousand goals. My idol when I was young. He made football the beautiful game and truly international. My time playing alongside him at Escape to Victory was a dream come true. RIP Pelé.”
While England’s 1966 World Cup-winning hero Sir Geoff Hurst said: “I have so many memories of Pele, without a doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the greatest footballer that I’ve ever played with).
“For me Pele is still the best of all time and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”
Santos, the club most synonymous with the Brazilian icon, posted a photo of a crown, captioned “Eternal.”
After being described as “one of the greatest legends of the game”, Mesut Ozil stated that “Pelé’s legacy will live forever” and that “I am sure that ‘Heaven FC with Maradona and Pelé together will be invincible forever.’
Iconic Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt shared a photo of the moment he met Pele, adding: “Sporting legend. Rest in peace King Pele.”
Boston Celtics player Jaylen Brown wrote: “Rest in peace to a legend today we celebrate his legacy! Pelé’s spirit will live on forever.”