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Neymar & Lionel Messi pay tribute to Pele: ‘He turned football into art’ | Football

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Brazil legends Dani Alves, Pele and Neymar celebrate with Lionel Messi at the 2012 Ballon d’Or awards (Photo: Getty)

Neymar and Lionel Messi have added their tributes to fellow football legend Pele who died on Thursday.

The Brazilian icon, the only player in history to win three World Cups, passed away at the age of 82 following a battle with cancer.

Tributes have been flooding in from the football world and beyond, with current Brazil superstar Neymar posting an emotional tribute to his icon on Instagram.

He wrote: ‘Before Pele, 10 was just a number. I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life.

‘But this sentence, beautiful, is incomplete. I would say before Pelé, football was just a sport.

‘Pele has changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment. Gave voice to the poor, blacks and mostly: Gave visibility to Brazil.

‘Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone but his magic remains. Pele is FOREVER!!’

Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi, considered alongside the likes of the late Pele and Diego Maradona to be the greatest footballer of all-time, added his condolences, simply saying: ‘Rest in peace Pele.’

England captain and Tottenham striker Harry Kane also paid tribute, writing: ‘Pele was a true inspiration and one of the greatest to ever play the game. Rest in peace.’

Three Lions and Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand said: ‘The legend who stood tallest among legends… always had time for everyone!

‘I had the pleasure of playing for him (charity match) and interviewing him – equally rewarding. The player, The man, The icon.’

Beyond the football world, former US President Barack Obama said: ‘Pele 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.’

MORE : Why did Pele never play for a European club?

MORE : Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe lead tributes for Pele as football world mourns loss of Brazil legend

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