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"Before Pele football was just a sport," Neymar pays emotional tribute to Brazil legend

"Before Pele football was just a sport," Neymar pays emotional tribute to Brazil legend

Neymar has written an incredibly moving tribute to Pele, after the Brazil legend died at the age of 82 on Thursday.

Neymar has perfectly summed up the impact Pele had on football, in his moving tribute to his fellow Brazilian.

Pele sadly passed away on Thursday, aged 82, in Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo, following a battle with colon cancer in recent months.

The former Santos star remains the only player to have won the World Cup on three occasions and is considered one of the greatest players of all times.

The news from South America was of course met with tributes pouring in from all around the globe, especially from current and former stars of football.

Amongst them was current Brazil star Neymar, who recently equalled Pele's record as the country's all time top scorer in men's international football.

The PSG star wears the number 10 shirt that was made famous by the former Santos star and his tribute really got to the heart of how much Pele meant to the number, and football itself.

"Before Pele, 10 was just a number, I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life," the 30-year-old said on Instagram.

"But this sentence, though beautiful, is incomplete.

"I would say, before Pele football was just a sport. Pele has changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment.

"He gave voice to the poor, to black people and especially: He 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!!"

Like Pele, Neymar also started his career with Santos and both won the Copa Libertadores with the Sao Paulo side, although the former won it twice.

He scored an incredible amount of goals throughout his career, with some stats even claiming it is as many as 1,281 goals, in 1,363 games.

The reason it's contested is due to the amount of 'friendlies' he played in, during an era in which many teams toured South America to play extremely competitive matches.

Despite the question marks over his numbers, there was no doubting his brilliance on the pitch, and the effect he had on later generations.

Neymar with Pele, as well as Lionel Messi and Dani Alves (right to left). Image: Alamy
Neymar with Pele, as well as Lionel Messi and Dani Alves (right to left). Image: Alamy

Cafu was another who paid a brilliant tribute to the Brazil legend, saying, "Pel will never die. Pele is eternal, Pele is the king, Pele is unique.

"He will be immortalised in every magnificent goal, in every moment of genius, but mainly in each one of us who were inspired by him and his generation. Rest in peace my brother."

The seven time Ballon d'Or winner transcended sport and even if he isn't the best ever, he was certainly the player that all others after him were compared.

That those outside of football will always know who Pele was, and the kinds of feats he achieved, makes him one of the most important figures in the sport.

His impact was summed up by the fact that former US president Barack Obama was also amongst the tributes, posting, "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."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Instagram

Topics: Pele, Neymar, Brazil, Santos, Football