Story by Oleen Ndori, Foreign Desk Editor
Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for football legend, Pele, the three-time World Cup winner widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, who died at the age of 82 this Thursday.
The death of “O Rei” – ‘The King’ triggered a wave of tributes from around the globe to the man who both transformed football and transcended the sport.
Pele died on Thursday at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo after a long battle with cancer.
The football world from current stars to his former teammates honoured the man who more than any other made football into the “Beautiful Game”, scoring a world record 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches during a career spanning more than two decades.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who declared three days of national mourning, said Pele had made football an “art and joy”, while president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is due to take office this Sunday, tweeted: “There had never been a number 10 like him.”
Pele is the only footballer in history to have won three World Cups — in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
A wake will take place on Monday, followed by a funeral on Tuesday in Santos, the south-eastern city where he played most of his career.
The city declared seven days of mourning as fans flocked to the team’s stadium to leave flowers.
In front of the hospital where he died, fans held up a banner which read: “Eternal King Pele.”
In a testament to Pele’s influence, international figures including United States President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama, Brazilian music legends Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and FIFA President Gianni Infantino also paid tribute.