Pelé’s influence on football will be “eternal”, says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Pele’s influence in the world of the game will last forever.

Three-time World Cup winner Pele, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, died on Thursday in Sao Paulo at the age of 82 after a long battle with colon cancer.

The Brazilian’s death prompted a huge outpouring of affection and respect from around the world.

Guardiola said: “On behalf of Manchester City, our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Football is football thanks to these kind of people.

“Neymar had a great sentence when he said that before (Pelé) the number 10 was just a number and then it became something special.

“Every top player wanted to wear the number 10 on their team. What he did for football is there and will always be.

“It’s like a good movie, the legacy after many years. If we’re still talking about him as a good movie or a good book it’s because he was so good.

Pelé helped Brazil win the World Cup three times (PA Archive)

“I think Pele, (Diego) Maradona, (Johan) Cruyff, (Lionel) Messi, (Franz) Beckenbauer, Cristiano Ronaldo – these kind of players will be forever, they will be eternal.

“They have done many things in many years on and off the pitch and with their teams and countries.

“These types of players make our business, our work, our work, however you want to say it, a better place because what they produced, what we saw at the World Cup, what a team can produce can change 48 million people, country. It’s incredible.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said Brazilian players in his Gunners squad, including Gabriel Magalhaes, vice-captain Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Marquinhos, mourned their compatriot’s death.

He said: “We talked (about his legacy) the other day and obviously they’re very excited because he’s one of the most popular figures in Brazil, and it’s a great loss.

“Obviously everything I’ve seen and heard about him has been through videos and people who knew him personally, and the many relationships I’ve always had in football, but someone who probably changed the dimension of a single player in the World Cup, because he knew how to do a little bit of everything.

“He was probably the most complete player the game has ever seen, and that’s a great loss. We have had two big defeats with him and Maradona in the last (two years).”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe also hailed Pele’s impact on and off the pitch.

Howe said: “As a player, he was incredibly talented. You look back at his goals, they are all different types, some were black and white. Some of them are spectacular, some are tap-ins, he had a mix.

“Many of them are also headers: he was very good in the air, a great spring for a small guy.

“As a footballer, even though I was a defender, I love watching goals, believe it or not, so it was a showreel of his goals and best moments.

“But there are some iconic sporting moments. As a person, I’ve never met him, so I didn’t know him, but you look back at sportsmanship, Bobby Moore at the end of the game in 1970, and those iconic images are so powerful and I’d give him a lot of credit for that too.”

Howe is too young to remember Pele as a player, but has always been well aware of his stature in the game.

He said: “I’ve seen the videos, especially the match between England and Brazil in 1970. In my era, you grew up knowing Pele, thinking of him as the best player the world had ever seen at the time.

“It’s very, very sad. Every time an icon dies, it’s a very sad time for football. Seeing the reaction from everyone, the media, everyone related to football, it’s definitely well remembered around the world.”

Pele’s position in Brazil is such that Howe will put an arm around compatriots Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton as the nation comes to terms with his defeat.

He said: “I will talk to the Brazilian players we have. He is an absolute giant in Brazil for obvious reasons for what he has accomplished for the country, so I will definitely tell them about him.”

Frank Lampard, the former England and Chelsea midfielder who is now Everton manager, acknowledges the huge impact Pele had on the game.

Lampard, 44, said: “There is enormous respect for him as a player and as a person, as all the replies since yesterday have shown. He was a great man as well as a great player.

“He was undoubtedly one of the greatest, so a sad day for football.

“The scope of his name in the game was obviously huge. He just gets bigger with age. Sadly we lost him, but his name will live on forever due to his impact on the game.”

Spurs boss Antonio Conte learned all about Pele from his father.

She said: “The first person who told me about Pele was my father. My father was in love with Pelé because for him he was the best player in the world and he spoke about him many times.

Antonio Conte grew up on Pelé's stories

Antonio Conte grew up with the stories of Pelé (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Then I saw some matches he played and especially the World Cup final and in some situations it was incredible what he did with the ball. Memories are this.

“Certainly if I have to compare Pelé with (Diego) Maradona, it is different because I have heard of Pelé, I had my father and I saw his quality through TV and that he was an extraordinary player.

“Speaking of Maradona, I had the opportunity to play against him. Then see and touch the skill of him. But I repeat, Pele was the best footballer in the world for my father.”

The Premier League and EFL have said out of respect that all games this weekend will see players wearing black armbands with a minute’s applause before kick-off.

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