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The football world reacts to the passing of Brazilian legend Pelé

The three-time World Cup champion and arguably the games greatest-ever player passed at the age of 82 after a courageous battle with illness


GOAT; a moniker first coined on an online forum referencing former NBA star Penny Hardaway in 1996, has become synonymous with debates across the sporting world regarding who is the best to ever do it.

It was at the center of Argentina’s third World Cup win this winter when Lionel Messi finally lifted the one trophy that eluded him for so long as he chased the ever-looming shadow of Diego Maradona.

Even before that, as on-pitch rivals Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - who many feel, one way or another, are the best footballers to ever play the game - were entering their last hurrah on football’s biggest stage while France star Kylian Mbappé looked to build on his platform of success that will eventually see his name entered into that same discussion; who is football’s true GOAT remains a never-ending talking point.

For many, that man was, is, and will always be Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or as the world has come to know him as; Pelé.

As the footballing world - and billions across the globe at large - have been shaken at the news of the 82-year-old Brazilian legend’s passing after a courageous battle against illness, an unwavering belief for many that the beautiful game has lost its greatest face, it’s most prized possession, and it’s most-influential presence.

From humble beginnings in Três Corações to the very pinnacle of footballing achievement on the back of three World Cup wins and an endless highlight real of moments of inexplicable ability, Pelé gave the beautiful game to the world much in the same way that Johan Cruyff championed total football. But for Pelé his influence was truly global; the first footballer to ever influence the hearts and minds of the full human audience.

Though many of us could go on with our own words, perhaps it is best to turn to one of those that knew him and was influenced by him to follow in his footsteps across playing surfaces across the globe; Ronaldo.

“Unique. Cool. Technical. Creative. Perfect. One of a kind. Where Pelé arrived, he stayed. Without ever leaving the top, he leaves us today. The king of football - only one. The greatest of all time. The world of mourning, the sadness of parting mixed with the immense pride of the written history. What a privilege to come after you, my friend. Your talent is a school every player should go through. Your legacy will transcend generations. And that’s how it will stay alive. Today, and always, we celebrate you. Thank you, Pelé. Rest in peace.”

With tributes pouring in across social media, 101 Great Goals extends its deepest sympathies to his family, friends, the nation of Brazil, and the countless people around the world that will be affected by his passing. Rest well, Pelé.


Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.



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