Brazilian daily O Globo ran a commemorative four-cover edition highlighting Pele’s career with the headline “Pele Eterno” while publications around the world packed their pages on Friday with tributes to the icon who died after a long battle with cancer.
Pele, who rose from poverty to become one of the greatest athletes in modern history, passed away on Thursday aged 82 as the only man to win three World Cups as a player, sending soccer fans from his nation and the world into mourning.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper had an image of an overjoyed Pele on the shoulders of team mates and fans after Brazil’s 1970 World Cup win in Mexico, with reporter Richard Williams describing him as the “first global football superstar.”
“More than that, along with Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley he became one of a select group of black sportsmen and entertainers who transcended their field of expertise and achieved global renown in the 20th century, with a status only half a rung below Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela,” Williams wrote.
In the Daily Mail, Jeff Powell wrote “Pele was a cut jewel – sharp-edged, glittering and flawless.”
French sports daily L’Equipe switched its headline colours to reflect the green and yellow of Brazil, with a picture of a young Pele adorning its cover. It also had the words “Pele. He was a King.”
Alfred Draxler wrote in the German tabloid Bild that Pele was better than Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo combined.
In the homeland of Maradona and Messi, Argentine newspaper Clarin said, “he was taken off the pitch but never from popular memory, which, for some time now, has been building the mausoleum he deserves.
“Farewell Pele. You made us happy, even your opponents.”
Spain’s El Pais said on its front page: “Goodbye to Pele, ‘the king’ of football” with a picture of him celebrating the 1970 World Cup triumph.
In the United States, where Pele played for the New York Cosmos, the New York Times ran the headline: “Pele, a Name That Became Shorthand for Perfection.”
In the Times of India, reporter Gautam Bhattacharyya wrote of an exhibition match that Pele played in Kolkata in 1977, saying, “the city probably fell in love with Brazil because it saw the magic of Pele.”