Pele dies: Obama, Stallone and Brazil president-elect pay tribute to Selecao icon

    Barack Obama, Sylvester Stallone and future Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were among those who paid tribute to football icon Pelé after his death on Thursday.

    Israel’s Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo has confirmed multiple organ failure as the cause of death of the three-time World Cup winner, widely regarded as the greatest footballer in history.

    The great Brazilian Pelé was battling colon cancer and was joined by his family in the hospital after he was placed on palliative care when his body stopped responding to treatment in early December.

    Lionel Messi, Ronaldo Nazario and Cristiano Ronaldo were among the many famous sports stars who paid tribute to the 82-year-old, while other world figures echoed similar sentiments.

    “Pele was one of the greatest who ever played this beautiful game,” former US President Obama tweeted.

    “And as one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he understood that sport brings people together. Our thoughts are with his family and all who loved and admired him.”

    Brazilian President Lula added on social media: “I had a privilege that young Brazilians didn’t have: I saw Pelé play live, in Pacaemba and Morumbi.

    “Play? No. I saw how Pelé performed. Because when he got the ball, he always did something special, which often ended in a goal.”

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also paid tribute.

    “We are celebrating the passing of the legendary Pele, known to many as the king of the beautiful game,” NASA said. “This image of a spiral galaxy in the constellation Sculptor shows the colors of Brazil.”

    Pelé was integral to Brazil’s World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no other player in the history of the tournament lifting the trophy again.

    But the legendary forward will also be remembered for his on-screen performance in the 1981 film Flight to Victory.

    He played Corporal Luis Fernandez in a film about Allied POWs in a German POW camp during World War II, in which the prisoners play an exhibition football match against the Germans.

    American movie star Stallone, who starred in the film alongside Pele, wrote on Instagram: “PELE IS THE GREAT! Rest in peace! It was a good man.”

    England’s 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Moore also appeared alongside Argentine great Ossie Ardiles, who tweeted: “The king of kings is dead. An extraordinary player. Unique.

    “Three-time World Cup winner, over a thousand goals. My idol when I was young. He made football a beautiful game and truly international.

    “The time I played with him in Escape to Victory was a dream come true. Rest in peace, Pele.”

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