Brazil in mourning for 'King of Football' Pele
SAO PAULO, Dec 30: Brazil started three days of national mourning on Friday for football legend Pele, the three-time World Cup winner widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, who has died at the age of 82.
The death of "O Rei" (The King) triggered a wave of tributes from around the globe to the man who both transformed football and transcended the sport.
Pele died Thursday at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo after a long battle with cancer.
The football world -- from current stars to his former teammates -- honored the man who more than any other made football into the "Beautiful Game", scoring a world record 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches during a career spanning more than two decades.
Brazil star Neymar said Pele "transformed football into an art." France's Kylian Mbappe said his legacy "will never be forgotten," and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo called him an "inspiration to millions."
Argentina's World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi simply wrote: "Rest in peace."
Mario Zagallo, who won the World Cup alongside Pele in 1958 and 1962, said the King had "stopped the world several times" with his talent.
"He leaves an eternal, unforgettable legacy," the 91-year-old Zagallo said. -AFP