Barack Obama, Sylvester Stallone and Brazil’s incoming president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were among those who paid tribute to football icon Pele following his death on Thursday.
The Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in São Paulo has confirmed that multiple organ failure is the cause of death of the three-time World Cup winner, considered by many to be the greatest soccer player in history.
Brazil’s great Pele was battling colon cancer and was joined by his family in hospital after being transferred to palliative care when his body stopped responding in early December.
Lionel Messi, Ronaldo Nazario and Cristiano Ronaldo were among several high-profile sports stars to pay tribute to the 82-year-old, while other global figures echoed similar sentiments.
“Pele was one of the greatest who ever played this beautiful game,” former US President Obama wrote on Twitter.
“And as one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he understood the power of sport to bring people together. Our thoughts are with his family and all who loved and admired him.”
Brazil’s president Lula added on social media: “I had the privilege that younger Brazilians didn’t have: I saw Pelé play live at Pacaembu and Morumbi.
“Play? No. I saw Pelé put on a show. Because when he took the ball he always did something special, which often ended up in the goal.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also paid tribute.
“We report the passing of the legendary Pele, known to many as the king of the ‘beautiful game,'” NASA posted. “This image of a spiral galaxy in the constellation Sculptor shows the colors of Brazil.”
Pelé played a pivotal role as Brazil won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the history of the tournament lifting the trophy more.
But the iconic striker will also be remembered for a big screen performance, having starred in the 1981 film ‘Escape to Victory’.
He played Corporal Luis Fernandez in the film about Allied POWs in a German POW camp during WWII, in which the inmates play a game of soccer against the Germans.
American film star Stallone, who starred opposite Pele in the film, posted on Instagram: “PELE THE GREAT! Rest in peace! He was a good man.”
Bobby Moore, England’s 1966 World Cup winner, also appeared alongside Argentinian great Ossie Ardiles, who tweeted: “The king of kings is dead. Extraordinary player. Unique.
“Three times World Cup winner, over a thousand goals. My idol as a youngster. He made football a beautiful and truly international game.
“Time playing alongside him in Runaway was a dream come true. RIP Pele.”