Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has joined the global sporting family in grieving the loss of one of the beautiful game’s most iconic figures – Edson Arantes do Nascimento – who passed away on Thursday at the age of 82.
Affectionately known as Pelé, the legendary Brazilian inspired the Seleção to victory in the 1958 World Cup, scoring in the Final in a 5-2 win over hosts Sweden and finished the competition with six goals.
Four years later, he helped Brazil retain the FIFA World Cup in Chile before leading them to victory again in 1970 in Mexico earning him the distinct accolade of being the only player in world football history to clinch three FIFA World Cup crowns.
Shaikh Salman said: “The world of football has lost one of its greatest ever servants and the Asian football family stands in solidarity in mourning the demise of one of football’s most beloved treasure.
“The extraordinary life and contributions of our dearest icon Pelé can never be replaced nor forgotten, and we will forever cherish the manner in which he inspired so many generations of players and millions of fans across the globe.
“His indelible legacy on the pitch was matched by his warmth and generosity of spirit, off the pitch and as much as we grieve his passing, we must also celebrate the memory of a truly exceptional human being.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues, the Brazilian Football Confederation and the Brazilian football community.”
Pelé began his career with Santos, which he led to six Campeonato Brasileiro Série A titles and two Copa Libertadores triumphs before moving onto New York Cosmos where he was widely credited for raising the profile of the sport in the United States.
In December 2000, he was named FIFA Player of the Century, alongside Argentinian Diego Maradona by FIFA and was bestowed with the Athlete of the Century award by the International Olympic Committee.
The thoughts and prayers of the AFC and the rest of the Asian football community are with the family and loved ones of Pelé, the Brazilian Football Confederation and the rest of the sporting world in mourning this great loss.