The football world lost its child -- Edson Arantes do Nascimento -- known to all as Pele. The beauty of football which was sculpted by Pele will continue in different forms but will never be replicated.
“Our King of football was the greatest exponent of victorious Brazil, who was never afraid when faced with difficulty. He promised his father a World Cup and he presented us with three. The king gave us a new Brazil and we are so thankful for his legacy. Thank you Pele,” read a statement from Brazilian Football Confederation.
“It is a sad end to the year and to the start of the New Year. Death is part of life but when it takes away a person who has literally touched every heart that has seen him play, it feels cruel,” stated Caitano Fernandes, President of Goa Football Association (GFA).
Pele showed how the ball should be caressed when at the age of 17 he helped Brazil win the World Cup in Sweden in 1958. He scored the only goal in Brazil's solitary-goal win over Wales in the quarterfinals; he registered a hat-trick against France in the semifinals; and two in the 5-2 triumph over hosts Sweden in the finals.
“Pele was the greatest player of all time winning three World Cups. I never got an opportunity to see him in his prime but saw him play when he came to India to play with Cosmos,” stated former India coach Derrick Perreira.
Pele is credited with scoring 1281 goals in 1363 appearances during a 21-year career including 77 goals in 92 matches for Brazil. He won the World Cup in 1958, 1962, and 1970. Pele was named FIFA Player of the Century in 2000.
“Pele is the reason why football is called the beautiful game. He is the 'King of Kings'. He was my inspiration to play this beautiful game after seeing his video cassettes, his exploits which are my prized possessions,” said GFA secretary and former Goa Santosh Trophy player Lector Mascarenhas.
“Pele showed the world how hard work and perseverance can create magic with the feet. I imbibe these virtues of Pele among the Indian youngsters when they are with me. The loss will never sink in because Pele was a beauty. He was magical,” stated Bibiano Fernandes, India junior coach.
Pele had to undergo surgery in September 2021 to remove a tumour from his colon at a hospital in Sao Paulo. He had been in and out of the hospital and was readmitted in November 2022.
Kelly Nascimento, his daughter, posted a picture on social media wherein she wrote: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in Peace.”
She had literally spoken on behalf of the football world because Pele embodied the passion, pain and pleasure that are rolled in a ball. He singularly united the world with his artistry with the ball.
“Very sad news. He was my inspiration. I dreamt of playing like Pele but as I grew I realised to attain the mastery Pele had, one had to be born special. He helped me finish where I did and whatever I do, I will try to pass on his message of hard work pays all,” stated Arjuna Awardee and Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) Director of coaching, Bruno Coutinho.
There will be a procession on Tuesday through the streets of Santos in Sao Paulo to a private family burial.