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Football world hails King Pele on 80th birthday

Xinhua
24 Oct 2020, 15:51 GMT+10

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Past and present football icons paid tribute to Pele on Friday as the Brazil legend celebrated his 80th birthday.

One of the first to congratulate the former Santos and New York Cosmos No. 10 was Brazil's biggest contemporary star Neymar, who posted heartfelt messages on Twitter and Instagram.

"Nobody compares to you. Thank you for everything you did for football. Long live the King," the Paris Saint-Germain forward said.

Pele, the scorer of more than 1,000 career goals and the only player to win three World Cups, responded in kind.

"Receiving a video from this guy on my 80th birthday is a great gift. Thanks @neymarjr, for the affection you've always had for me," he said.

There were also words of admiration and respect from bitter rival Diego Maradona, with whom Pele shared the award for FIFA's best player of the 20th century.

"I want to join the universal tributes. Very happy 80th, Rey Pele," Maradona wrote on Twitter.

Pele responded graciously, seemingly intent to end the pair's decades old public feud.

"Maradona, my friend. I'm very happy to receive your message. I hope you are well and we'll see each other soon."

Brazil's 2002 World Cup winner Ronaldo, who drew comparisons with Pele during his mid-to-late 1990s prime before succumbing to a series of crippling knee injuries, joined the chorus of well wishers.

"There is only one king and that is you," Ronaldo wrote. "How lucky I am to be from the generation that was inspired by your football. What a privilege to have you as an idol," he added.

Ronaldinho posted a video on Instagram in which he described Pele as "unique and incomparable".

"All the health and happiness in the world to you," the former Barcelona playmaker said. "Thank you for everything you've done and represented on and off the pitch."

FIFA 2007 world player of the year Kaka said: "We football lovers can only thank you. Congratulations, King Pele."

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