Obrigado Pelé — Reactions from around the world to the death of Pelé the King

Obrigado Pelé — Reactions from around the world to the death of Pelé the King
Brazilian soccer legend Pele poses during an interview with Spanish news agency EFE at the Pele Museum in Santos, Brazil, 12 November 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE /Sebastiao Moreira)

Brazil soccer great Pelé died on Thursday aged 82 after a long battle with cancer. Here are reactions to his death from around the world.


Fifa President Gianni Infantino

His legacy is impossible to summarise in words.

To his family and friends, to CBF (Brazilian Football Federation), to Brazil and to all football fans who loved him so much, I express my sincere condolences.

Today, we all mourn the loss of the physical presence of our dear Pelé, but he achieved immortality a long time ago and therefore he will be with us for eternity.

US President Joe Biden

For a sport that brings the world together like no other, Pelé’s rise from humble beginnings to soccer legend is a story of what is possible. Today, (First Lady) Jill and I’s thoughts are with his family and all those who loved him.

Former US President Barack Obama at a campaign rally in November 2022 in Las Vegas. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Former US President Barack Obama

Pelé was one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game. And as one of the most recognisable athletes in the world, he understood the power of sports to bring people together. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone who loved and admired him.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

During the eight decades of his life, Pelé not only filled football stadiums with exhilaration but he filled hearts and homes with hope and the knowledge that adversity was surmountable. He was a global inspiration who embodied the best that sport has to offer as an exhibition of physical endeavour and as a means to transform individuals and entire societies from within. 

His endurance and impact on the field of play inspired the resilience with which Pelé worked for peace and justice globally. Pelé will be missed by multiple generations of people worldwide who were touched by his life even if they never set foot in a stadium.”

Read in Daily Maverick: “Pelé (1940-2022) – The G.O.A.T

Uefa President Aleksander Čeferin  

He was the first global superstar of the game and, 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.

Actor Sylvester Stallone, Pelé’s co-star in film Escape to Victory

Pelé The Great! Rest in peace! This was a good man.

New York City Football Club

Obrigado Pelé. No one did more for this sport here, and everywhere. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Lionel Messi of Argentina during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 final match between Argentina and France on 18 December, 2022 in Qatar. (Photo: ANP via Getty Images)

Argentina Captain Lionel Messi

Rest in peace, Pelé.

Argentina President Alberto Fernández

One of the greatest footballers in history has left us. We will always remember those years when Pelé dazzled the world with his skills. A big hug to his family and to the people of Brazil who will carry him in their hearts.

German former soccer player Franz Beckenbauer arrives for the ‘Hall Of Fame’ of German football in Dortmund, Germany, in April 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL)

German World Cup Winner Franz Beckenbauer

Football lost the greatest in its history today – and I lost a unique friend. Football will be yours forever. Rest in peace Pelé.

Gary Lineker, 1986 World Cup top scorer

Pelé has died. The most divine of footballers and joyous of men. He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to. Three 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. RIP Pelé.

 Bolivia President Luis Arce

Today the world lost a great soccer legend, Pelé, whose example of perseverance and love for the sport transcends generations. Thank you for lighting up the field with your talent. We send our condolences to his family and to the entire country of Brazil.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach

With Pelé’s passing, 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.

French President Emmanuel Macron

The game. The king. Eternity.

Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo, on Instagram

My deepest condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Mr Edson Arantes do Nascimento. A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that embraces the whole world of football at this moment. An inspiration for so many millions, a reference of yesterday, of today, of always.

Kylian Mbappé of France at the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France on 18 December, 2022 in Qatar. (Photo: Richard Sellers/Getty Images)

France striker Kylian Mbappé, on Twitter

The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING …

Former England player Geoff Hurst

I have so many memories of Pelé, without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside). For me Pelé remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pelé and thank you.

Manchester United

Rest in peace, Pelé. Thank you for the joy you brought to football fans around the world.


A legend, icon and true great of the game who will forever be remembered. Rest in peace, Pelé.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid CF, its President and its Board of Directors deeply regret the death of world football legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé, one of the greatest players of all time. Real Madrid would like to express its condolences to his family, his loved ones, his clubs, the Brazilian Confederation and all football fans in Brazil and around the world.


Barca deeply regrets the death of “Rei” (King) Pelé, one of the greatest players of all time. With him, football became greater. May he rest in peace.

Wales Football Association

Pelé broke our hearts in 1958 to score his first World Cup goal to knock Cymru out. Today our hearts are broken again. A true sporting legend. Our thoughts are with the people of Brazil and the world football family.

Italian Football Federation President Gabriele Gravina

Millions of people recognised themselves in him in a beautiful story of redemption and great passion. The class of him will forever light up our eyes.


We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pelé. We extend our condolences to the Brazilian people and the football family. Pelé was @UNESCO Champion for Sport since 1994 and worked relentlessly to promote sport as a tool for peace. He will be greatly missed.


Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations


Argentina World Cup winner Osvaldo Ardiles

The King of Kings has died. Extraordinary player. Unique. Three times World Cup winner, more than 1,000 goals. My idol when young. He made football the beautiful game and truly international. My time playing alongside him in Escape to Victory was a dream come true. RIP Pelé.

France coach Didier Deschamps

With the passing of Pelé, football has lost one of its most beautiful legends, if not the most beautiful. Like all legends, the King seemed immortal. It made people dream and continued to make generations and generations of fans of our sport.

Former Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta

Thank you for everything you gave to the world of football. RIP to a legend.

Cars pass a building where an image of football icon ‘Pele’ is displayed after he passed away on 29 December, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo: Mauro Horita/Getty Images

Uruguay striker Luis Suárez

His legacy will be eternal. Rest in peace, king.

Mexican national team on Instagram

Today the world of football cries for the loss of O Rei. We say goodbye to a legend who will live eternally. Rest in peace, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé. One of the greatest players to ever do it.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

May Pelé rest in peace, the great footballer and humble teacher who surely influenced players like Ronaldinho with his example, who stated in February 2021: “My father told me that it was better to learn to control the ball barefoot in order to have sensitivity in my feet and I promised him that I would control that ball like no other, but what really happened was that he didn’t have the money to give me a pair of shoes.”

Former Argentina International Claudio Caniggia

One of my biggest inspirations for playing football. Since I was a kid I admired him, like everyone who understands and loves this sport. Forever Pelé.

Multiple Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal

A sad day for the world of football, for the world of sport. His legacy will always be with us. I didn’t see him play, I wasn’t that lucky, but I was always taught and told that he was the King of football.

Multiple Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt

A Sporting Legend. Rest in Peace King Pelé.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Pelé was a true legend; there was no one quite like him. But he also transcended the game and inspired generations on and off the field.

Colombia President Gustavo Petro

As a child I watched Pelé at the World Cup on a black and white screen. My dad told me that he was the best soccer player in the world. Today I think my father was right.

 Multiple Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton

Lost a legend today. Thank you for sharing your talent, genius and love with us. @Pelé’s legacy will inspire us forever and always. 

Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula 1

He was a shining light for Brazil and millions around the world. His skill, smile and brilliance will live on forever.

Billie Jean King as she meets the Great Britain Billie Jean Cup team at Emirates Arena on 9 November, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images for LTA)

Former Tennis World Number One Billie Jean King

Much of sports is entertainment for fans and Pelé’s athleticism and skill made him globally known. I had the honour of spending time with him. He was joyful and had that something special. Reuters/DM


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