Friday 29 December 2023, 18:30

FIFA President pays tribute to Pelé one year on from his passing

  • Brazilian legend Pelé passed away on 29 December 2022

  • Pelé is the only player to have won the FIFA World Cup three times

  • Gianni Infantino said: “We want to ensure that future generations know who he is”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has paid tribute to Pelé on the first anniversary of the Brazilian legend's passing. Widely regarded as the greatest player to grace the game, Pelé, full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, passed away on 29 December 2022 in São Paulo after a long illness, triggering an outpouring of emotional and heart-felt mourning across the world.

“Exactly one year has passed since we “physically” lost O Rei (The King) Pelé, the man who embodied the essence of football - but Pelé is eternal and will always be with us,” said the FIFA President. “It was Pelé who turned football into the greatest sport in the world. He took football to another level. He played with natural talent, effortlessly, and tried to do what had never been done before.”

A football superstar and icon, Pelé is revered around the world for his sporting prowess, humble demeanour and incredible legacy. Bursting onto the global scene at the FIFA World Cup 1958™ aged just 17, Pelé played a crucial role as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time, scoring six goals including a brace in his side’s 5-2 victory over Sweden in the final. Injury limited him to just a single appearance as A Seleção defended their title in Chile in 1962 but Pelé was at his best in Mexico in 1970, leading what many believe to be the greatest ever Brazil side. He scored four goals in that campaign – including one in the final against Italy – and produced moments of magic as he won his and Brazil’ historic third FIFA World Cup™ crown.

“He thrilled us, he made us smile. Off the pitch, Pelé was an affectionate, charismatic, kind and sincere person, who always had time and a kind word for everyone,” said the FIFA President. “These memories fade with time, but we want to ensure that future generations know who he is, what he achieved and how much happiness he brought us. “We have to do all we can to keep this memory alive. So that in 50 to 100 years’ time, when anyone hears his name, Pelé, anywhere in the world, they’ll know who he was.” Pelé was bestowed with countless honours and titles during the 20th century and featured in many popular movies and television shows of the time, and now FIFA and member associations around the world are playing their part in ensuring Pelé’s name and memory will live on forever.

Inspired by Gianni Infantino’s decision to name the football pitch at the Home of FIFA in Zurich after Pelé, there are now stadiums across the world paying tribute to the Santos legend including Bello Horizonte “Rey Pelé” (Colombia), Rei Pelé (Guinea-Bissau), Pelé Stadium (Maldives) and Kigali Pelé Stadium (Rwanda). “We’ve named the football pitch at FIFA’s headquarters in Zürich after him, and many countries have also renamed their stadiums to pay homage to the King [of Football], said the FIFA President. “Soon, many others will follow suit. Big hugs to all of you, to all our friends, to Pelé’s family and to Brazilian football as a whole. Together, we can, and we will, keep King Pelé’s memory alive forever.”