Honorary captain Franz Beckenbauer reacted with great dismay to the death of his former team-mate. Beckenbauer said: “Football lost the greatest of its history today – and I lost a unique friend. Born in Três Corações, Pelé had three hearts: for football, for his family, for all people. One who played with the stars and always kept his feet on the ground.”
The German football legend continued: “I went to the USA in 1977 because I really wanted to play in a team with Pelé at Cosmos New York. This time at his side was one of the greatest experiences of my career. Champion, and Pelé then just called me his brother. It was an unimaginable honor for me. Football will be yours forever! You will always be. Thank you for your game.”
“Pele changed everything”
The German Football Association announced: “Football Germany is mourning. You are already missing. Rest in peace, Pele!” Lionel Messi (Argentina) also declared: “Rest in peace, Pele.” Neymar (Brazil) stressed: “I would say that before Pele, football was just a sport. Pele changed everything. He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave a voice to the poor, to the black people and above all to the other. It gave Brazil visibility.”
Similar to Neymar, the Norwegian Manchester City striker Erling Haaland emphasized that Pelé gave football a lot of new impetus: “Everything you ever see a player do, Pelé did first,” wrote Haaland.
Kylian Mbappé (France) paid tribute to Pele, saying: “The king of football has left us, but his legacy will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, king.”
“Inspiration for Millions”
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) stated: “My deepest condolences to all of Brazil and especially to the family of Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Just saying ‘Ade’ to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that the entire football world is currently feeling. An inspiration to so many millions, a reference yesterday, today and forever.”
Ronaldo continued: “The warmth you always showed me was returned in every moment we shared, even from a distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever in each and every one of us who we love football. Rest in Peace King Pele.”
A number 10 like no other
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the elected President of Brazil, also spoke out after Pelé’s death.
He explained: “Pelé left us today. He left to play one-two in heaven with Coutinho, his great partner at Santos.
He now has the company of so many eternal stars: Didi, Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Socrates, Maradona… He left a certainty: there had never been a number 10 like him. Thank you Pele. Few Brazilians have carried the name of our country as far into the world as he has.”
haz/ack (dpa, rtr, sid, afp)