African leaders mourn the passing of Brazil legend Pele

Published on: 31 December 2022

Several African leaders have paid tribute to the life and legacy of Brazil legend Pele, who died on Thursday in São Paulo following a battle with cancer. 

Pele, who is arguably the greatest player ever died at the age of 82.

He is credited with scoring a world record 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances during a 21-year career, including 77 goals in 92 matches for his country.

Pele is the only player in history to win the World Cup three times, lifting the trophy in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He was named FIFA’s Player of the Century in 2000.

He had been suffering with kidney and prostate problems in recent years.

Below are tributes from some African leaders:

“I met the legend Pelé and Eusébio in 1967 in New York during an exhibition game,” Namibian President Hage Geingob said in a Twitter message, referring also to the Portuguese star. “Pelé epitomized the uniting force of the beautiful game of soccer. His contributions in bringing people of different races together is a legacy to be cherished across generations.”

In Angola, where President João Lourenço had already departed for Brazil and the presidential inauguration of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, sporting officials offered their condolences at the loss of “King Pelé.” The head of the Angolan Football Federation, Artur Almeida e Silva, lamented the loss of a global legend in a statement sent to his Brazilian counterpart.

“By his virtuosity, his genius and his humanism, the King Pelé forever marked the history of football, the only player to have won three World Cups,” President Macky Sall of Senegal said.

And President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa offered his condolences in a letter to outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro. Pelé visited South Africa in 1995 and met President Nelson Mandela, he said, with the two sharing common social and political causes.

A public wake for Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, will be held at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos on Monday. Private funeral services will follow the public memorial.