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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on the death of Pelé

Date: Thu 29th Dec, 2022 | 19:10

“It is with a deep sense of sadness that members of the football family throughout the world will have heard of the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, universally known and loved as Pelé.

It is particularly poignant that Pelé should have died so soon after the World Cup, that greatest stage which he graced like no other. From his goals seen in black and white as a 17 year old in Sweden in 1958 to his technicolour triumph with arguably the greatest ever Brazilian team in Mexico twelve years later in 1970, Pelé’s name will always be synonymous with the World Cup as its only three time winner.

Indeed his name will forever be synonymous with football itself, as perhaps the greatest player ever to play the game. In addition to his remarkable talent and record breaking goal scoring feats, the sheer joy with which he embraced the game will continue to inspire and bring people to the sport for generations to come.

That was a spirit which he brought beyond the pitch and reflected in his life after retirement, where he lent support to many humanitarian causes.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pelé on a number of occasions in the 1980s and 1990s and our last meeting was on a working visit to Mexico in 2013 in Guadalajara. In each of our meetings I was struck by that same sense of joy with which he graced the football pitch.

May I express my sympathies to his wife Marcia Aoki, to his children, to his wider family and to all his many friends and admirers throughout the world.”