“King” Pele “changed everything,” says Brazil forward Neymar, as tributes to the late football legend pour in.
Pele, arguably the greatest player of all time, died on Thursday at the age of 82, and current and former players took to social media to pay their respects.
“Football was just a sport before Pele,” Neymar wrote on Instagram.
“Pele altered everything. He elevated football to the level of art and entertainment. He gave the poor and black people a voice.”
Neymar continued: “He primarily increased Brazil’s visibility. Football and Brazil have risen in popularity as a result of the King! He’s gone, but his magic lives on.”
Neymar’s French Paris St-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe also described Pele as “the king of football”, adding “his legacy will never be forgotten”.
During his 21-year career, Pele set a world record with 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances, including 77 goals in 92 matches for Brazil.
Pele was named Fifa’s Player of the Century in 2000 after becoming the only player to win the World Cup three times, in 1958, 1962, and 1970.