MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. The football world is mourning the death of Brazilian football legend Pele, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 82.
The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo said Pele died of multiple organ failure "due to progressing colon cancer associated with [the patient’s] previous clinical condition."
Commenting on the news, Cristiano Ronaldo wrote on Instagram (banned in Russia since it is owned by Meta, deemed extremist in Russia): "My deepest condolences to all people of Brazil and the family [of Pele]. A mere ‘goodbye’ will not be enough to express the pain that has gripped the entire football world."
He described Pele as "a source of inspiration for millions of fans, an eternal reference."
"He will never be forgotten, and his memory will live on forever in everyone who loves football. Rest in peace, the Football King," Ronaldo wrote.
Brazilian forward Neymar, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team, said Pele "has changed everything, turning football into art and entertainment."
"He gave the voice to the black people and the poor, but more importantly he put Brazil into the spotlight," he said. "Football and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King. He is gone, but his magic is here. Pele is eternal!"
Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, Argentinean forward Lionel Messi also expressed his condolences on social networks.
Gary Lineker, England’s best striker at World Cups, wrote: "Pele has died. 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."
President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach said in a statement that with Pele’s death "the world has lost a great sporting icon."
"As I could experience myself, he was a true believer in the Olympic values and a proud carrier of the Olympic flame. It was a privilege to present the Olympic Order to him," IOC press service quoted Bach as saying.
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) also offered condolences, saying: "They called him ‘The King’, and his face is one of the most recognizable in world football. The man in question is, of course, Pele, who was once named by FIFA as the greatest player of the 20th century."
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), in turn, described Pele as "the first global superstar of the game."
"Thanks to achievements on and off the field, he played a pioneering role in football's rise to become the world's most popular sport. He will be greatly missed. On behalf of the European football community, rest in peace, Pele," UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said.
President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) Alexander Dyukov said "Russian fans of all generations have particular warmth and love for Pele."
"Today, the global football community has suffered an irreparable loss, as Pele, the legend of football, passed away. He was the only person to hold the World Cup as a player three times, and his name is the symbol of football glory for us. He will always be an example of outstanding devotion to football," Dyukov said.
"I extend my deepest and most sincere condolences to Pele’s family and friends, on behalf of the Russian Football Union and on a persona level. The memory of Pele will always live on in our hearts," he added.
The professional football career of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known worldwide as Pele, lasted from 1956 and 1977. Among Pele’s numerous awards and prizes are three FIFA World Cup victories (in 1958, 1962 and 1970). He was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for most career goals scored in football - 1,279.
Pele shared FIFA’s World Player of the Century title with Diego Maradona in 1999. Also in 1999, the International Olympic Committee elected him the Athlete of the Century, despite the fact that he never took part in the Olympic Games. Later that year, Time magazine included Pele in its list of 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.
In September 2021, Pele underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his colon, but was admitted to the hospital again in November 2022. On December 22, doctors said his cancer was progressing and he required medical assistance in connection with renal and cardiac dysfunction.