‘Greatest of all time’: Pelé as described by his peers

Dec 28, 2022, 9:41 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 3:29 pm
FILE - Artist Andy Warhol, left, chats wth soccer superstar Pele about a portrait he is making of h...

FILE - Artist Andy Warhol, left, chats wth soccer superstar Pele about a portrait he is making of him, July 26, 1977, New York. In background is a poster with a photograph of Pele in action. Warhol has been commissioned to make a series of portraits of athletic stars. (AP Photo/Claudia Larson, File)

(AP Photo/Claudia Larson, File)

Pele has been praised over the decades by everyone from world leaders to artists. Here are superlatives from over the years about Pele, who died Thursday in Brazil at age 82:

___

“To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in full.” — Nelson Mandela.

___

“I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong.” — Italy’s Tarcisio Burgnich, after playing against Pele in the 1970 World Cup Final.

___

“Pelé was one of the few who contradicted my theory: Instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.” — Andy Warhol.

___

“I sometimes feel as though football was invented for this magical player.” — Sir Bobby Charlton, retired England great who won 1966 World Cup and Ballon d’Or in same year.

___

“Pelé was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.” — Johan Cruyff, the late Dutch star and standout manager who won the Ballon d’Or three times.

___

“He is the most complete player I ever saw.” — Retired German great Franz Beckenbauer.

___

“If you take the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi, put them together, then you’d have a player to compare to Pelé!” — Retired Brazil forward Tostao.

___

“The best player ever? Pelé. (Lionel) Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both great players with specific qualities, but Pelé was better.” — Alfredo Di Stefano, the late Argentine star for Real Madrid.

___

“His great secret was improvisation. Those things he did were in one moment. He had an extraordinary perception of the game.” — Brazil defender Carlos Alberto Torres.

___

“This debate about the player of the century is absurd. There’s only one possible answer: Pelé. He’s the greatest player of all time, and by some distance, I might add.” — Retired Brazil star Zico.

___

“The greatest player in history was Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pelé as a player. He was above that.” — Hungary star Ferenc Puskas.

___

“We went up together to head a ball. I was taller, had a better impulse. When I came back down, I looked up in astonishment. Pelé was still there, in the air, heading that ball. It was like he could stay suspended for as long as he wanted to.” — Italy defender Giacinto Facchetti.

___

“When I saw Pelé play, it made me feel I should hang up my boots.” — Just Fontaine, the Morocco-born French star who scored 13 goals in six games in the 1958 World Cup.

___

“The moment the ball arrived at Pelé’s feet, football transformed into poetry.” — Italian poet Pier Paolo Pasolini.

___

“The difficulty, the extraordinary, is not to score 1,000 goals like Pelé — it’s to score one goal like Pelé.” — Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Brazilian poet.

___

“Pelé was the most complete player I’ve ever seen. Two good feet. Magic in the air. Quick. Powerful. Could beat people with skill. Could outrun people. Only 5-feet-8 inches tall, yet he seemed a giant of an athlete on the pitch. Perfect balance and impossible vision.” — Bobby Moore, captain of the 1966 World Cup champion team from England.

___

“I arrived hoping to stop a great man, but I went away convinced I had been undone by someone who was not born on the same planet as the rest of us.” — Benfica goalkeeper Costa Pereira after 5-2 loss to Santos.

___

“There’s Pelé the man, and then Pelé the player. And to play like Pelé is to play like God.” — Retired France star and three-time Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini.

___

“Pelé is the greatest player in football history, and there will only be one Pelé in the world.” — Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal star forward.

___

Sources: Goal.com, FIFA.com, AP research.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

United States' Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women's World Cup slal...
Associated Press

US skier Shiffrin leads slalom in pursuit of record 86th win

SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic (AP) — American skier Mikaela Shiffrin had what she called a “perfect run” to lead a women’s World Cup slalom after the opening leg Sunday as she approached the all-time record for the most career wins with 86. If Shiffrin wins the race, she matches Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s best mark […]
1 day ago
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece yells out after losing a point to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the ...
Associated Press

Djokovic beats Tsitsipas for 10th Australian Open, 22nd Slam

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic was simply too good at the most crucial moments and claimed his 10th Australian Open championship and 22nd Grand Slam title overall by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the final at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night. The victory allows Djokovic to return to No. […]
1 day ago
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Troy Stecher, left, taunts Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras after Zebr...
Associated Press

Zegras scores in OT, Ducks beat Coyotes for 3rd win a row

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Trevor Zegras scored at 3:34 of overtime and the Anaheim Ducks beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Saturday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season. John Klingberg stole the puck from Matias Maccelli in the offensive zone and found Zegras in the slot for a wrist shot for […]
1 day ago
Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) and Cody Ceci (5) celebrate a goal against the Chicago Blackha...
Associated Press

Oilers head into All-Star break with win over Blackhawks

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Tyson Barrie scored twice, Connor McDavid had his NHL-best 41st goal and the Edmonton Oilers headed into their All-Star break with a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each had a goal and two assists, and Evander Kane and Ryan McLeod also […]
1 day ago
Seattle Kraken center Ryan Donato, rear, watches as the puck rests behind Columbus Blue Jackets goa...
Associated Press

Wennberg scores against former team, Kraken top Blue Jackets

SEATTLE (AP) — Alex Wennberg scored midway through the second period against his former team to help the Seattle Kraken beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Saturday night. Wennberg, who was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round in 2013, had his 10th goal of the season in his 600th career game. […]
1 day ago
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam drives to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers forward Jera...
Associated Press

Achiuwa leads Raptors to 123-105 win over Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Precious Achiuwa scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in place of the injured OG Anunoby to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 123-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 19 against his former team for the Raptors, […]
1 day ago
‘Greatest of all time’: Pelé as described by his peers