Story by Ian Zvoma
The World has been united in mourning football icon and Brazilian legend, Pele who died at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer.
From screaming headlines to personal tributes on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, there is an outpouring of grief after the death of a man regarded as the greatest ever to play the game, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele.
But no one summed it up better than the Brazilian poster boy Neymar, who at one point was regarded as the heir apparent to the great Pele.
Neymar wrote on Instagram, “Before Pele, 10 was just a number … football was just a sport… He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave a voice to the poor, to Black people and especially: Gave visibility to Brazil… He is gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!!”
In his native Brazil, Christ the Redeemer and the Maracana were lit up in the colours of the national flag while thousands of fans gathered outside Santos’s stadium, where the great Pele honed his skills.
However, Pele was not just for Brazil, he belonged to the World and the World belonged to him.
Portuguese great, Cristiano Ronaldo paid tribute to the G.O.A.T saying, “A mere ‘goodbye’ to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that the entire football world is currently embracing…”An inspiration to so many millions, a reference for yesterday, today and forever.”
Another football great, Lionel Messi, also took to social media to comment on Pele’s death saying “Rest in peace, @pele” accompanied by three images, two in which he was next to Pele.
Former England international Gary Lineker posted an emotional tribute to Pele saying the King will have “footballing immortality” after his death.
“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 Pele.”
South American Football expert, Tim Vickery paid tribute to Pele describing him in five words as, “the most perfect footballing machine”.
Pele’s legacy is also personified in Zimbabwe with former Ziscosteel and Warriors midfield magician, Kennedy Nagoli having been taken to Brazil by the football icon to play for Santos.
What is clear is that no words are enough to describe the football genius regarded by the majority as the greatest of all time after winning the World Cup three times – the only man to have done so in the rich history of the world’s most popular sport.
However, his exploits go beyond national team accolades as Pele scored a world record 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances. He also scored 77 goals in 92 matches for Brazil.
His unmatched accomplishments also saw Pele being named FIFA’s Player of the Century in 2000.