Pele's final journey through the streets of Santos saw thousands turn out on Tuesday to bid farewell to the man they knew as 'King'.

The Brazil great's death at the age of 82 was announced last Thursday, with the three-time World Cup winner having suffered from cancer.

He was moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to treatment, and his death has been felt deeply across the country.

Santos, a municipality close to Sao Paulo, is the city in which Pele spent his entire club career and far beyond.

He was the superstar of the Santos team, whom he represented from 1956 to 1974, scoring 643 goals in 659 matches and resisting opportunities to move to leading European teams.

A 24-hour wake began on Monday, with fireworks set off and flags waved in his honour, and the celebration of his life continued as his coffin left the Vila Belmiro stadium to travel through the city, before heading to the Memorial Necropole Ecumenica.

That is a vertical, high-rise cemetery, with Pele due to be laid to rest on its ninth floor, at a site that overlooks the Vila Belmiro.

Santos City Hall said over 230,000 people had filed past Pele's coffin while it lay at the stadium, and crowds gathered outside as it left.

The cortege travelled along the beach front, with his coffin resting on top of a fire engine, draped in a Brazil flag.

Many walked alongside and behind, with Santos flags waved and applause by long-time admirers.

The coffin passed by the home of Pele's 100-year-old mother.

On Santos beach, overhead shots showed a view of a message inside a heart, etched onto the sand, reading: "Pele will be eternal."

Gianni Infantino has asked each country to name one stadium after Pele in a tribute to the Brazil great.

Pele, the only man to win the World Cup three times as a player, passed away last week aged 82.

Brazil entered a national period of mourning after Pele's death.

Pele's coffin was placed in the centre circle at Urbano Caldeira Stadium in Sao Paulo, the home of his former club Santos, and FIFA president Infantino was in attendance on Monday.

"We are going to ask that all countries in the world have at least one stadium with the name of Pele," Infantino told reporters in Brazil.

"[This will be] so that children know Pele's importance [to the game of football]."

Naming a sporting venue after a former player is not an uncommon occurrence, with such examples as Hungary's Puskas Arena and the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

However, it is more unusual for a venue to be named for a player outside their native country, though again not implausible.

Serie A side Napoli renamed their home ground the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in memory of the Argentina great following his death in 2020.

South Korea's Gwangju World Cup Stadium meanwhile was named after Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who took the nation to a fourth-place finish at the 2004 World Cup.

Pele, whose 77 goals for Brazil stands as a joint record, is set to be laid to rest on Tuesday.

Football fans took to the streets of Sao Paulo with fireworks and flags as the hearse carrying Brazil legend Pele's body made its way to the sight of the 24-hour public wake that begins on Monday.

Pele, a three-time World Cup winner, had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

His death was announced on Thursday. He was 82.

Tributes have flooded in for the footballing icon after he left a lasting legacy on Brazil and Santos, for whom he scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period.

His body left the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital – where he died – during the early hours of Monday ahead of the wake, with fans coming out in force to bid him farewell.

Santos' stadium, the Vila Belmiro, will host the public wake starting at 10:00 local time, with Pele's coffin to be located at the centre of the pitch.

Fans and dignitaries will be able to pay their respects until 10:00 local time on Tuesday.

A procession will then take place on the streets of Santos before Pele is laid to rest in a private ceremony on the ninth floor of the Memorial Necropole Ecumenica, a vertical cemetery poignantly overlooking the Vila Belmiro roughly half a mile away.

As well as bringing an end to a long-running transfer saga, Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Al Nassr likely brings the curtain down on one of the greatest careers in elite European football history.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will unquestionably become the highest-profile player to feature in the Saudi Pro League when he makes his debut, but he is by no means the first to make a move of that nature.

A tradition of elite players spending the twilight of their careers in an unfamiliar league – whether for one last payday or to raise the profile of the competition – is long-running.

Here, Stats Perform looks at how a series of other superstars fared after making comparable moves, including all-time greats Pele and Johan Cruyff, and a legendary Spanish midfield duo.
 

Pele (New York Cosmos)

When Pele joined the North American Soccer League (NASL)'s New York Cosmos in 1975, the Brazilian had already cemented his place among the very greatest to play the game by winning three World Cups – the first as a teenager and the last as part of one of the all-time great Selecao teams.

Despite his advancing years, Pele's class remained on display in the United States, where he scored 37 goals and registered 30 assists in three years with the Cosmos, who won the NASL's Soccer Bowl in 1977. 

 

Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos)

Having signed one World Cup legend in Pele, the Cosmos repeated the trick in 1977 with the acquisition of Beckenbauer, who played four seasons for the club either side of a brief return to Germany with Hamburg.

The Bayern Munich great can certainly count his time in the NASL as a success, winning three Soccer Bowls – the latter two without Pele.

Johan Cruyff (Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats)

As another highly decorated player moving to the NASL in the late 1970s, Cruyff represented both the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats following his brief retirement in 1978.

The Dutch innovator complained of playing on artificial surfaces in the United States before bucking the trend of most players on this list – Cruyff returned to Europe in the twilight of his career, leading Ajax to two further Eredivisie titles as well as winning the division with their rivals Feyenoord. 

Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi Makhachkala)

While every transfer on this list was left-field, few created as much shock as Samuel Eto'o's 2011 move from Inter to big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala. 

Eto'o reportedly became the world's best-paid player with his move to Anzhi, for whom he scored 25 league goals before billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov scaled back ambitions at the now-defunct club, leading the striker to head to Chelsea.

 

David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

The NASL established the tradition of footballing luminaries arriving in the United States, but Beckham's 2007 move to LA Galaxy helped Major League Soccer break new ground.

Beckham won two MLS Cups and two Supporters' Shields with the Galaxy, but the wider impact of his move – which inspired several other big names to head stateside and led the former England captain to found Inter Miami – was huge. 

Xavi (Al Sadd)

Xavi called time on his playing career with Barcelona as a Champions League winner in 2015, opting to spend four years representing Qatar Stars League side Al Sadd before cutting his managerial teeth at the same club.

The 2010 World Cup winner won the Qatari top-flight once as a player and once as a coach before returning to Camp Nou last year, having both played and managed over 100 games with Al Sadd. 

Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe)

The second of Barca's pass masters left the European game in 2018, when Iniesta joined J1 league side Vissel Kobe in a shock move.

Considering he still captains the side at the age of 38, Iniesta must have enjoyed his time in Japan, where he has since been joined by compatriots Bojan Krkic and Sergi Samper.

James Rodriguez (Al Rayyan)

Whenever the World Cup rolls around, the idea of breakout stars is discussed. Few players have been more deserving of that tag than Colombia's Rodriguez, who top-scored at the 2014 edition.

Having enjoyed title successes with European heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and enjoyed a – rather less successful – spell at Everton, Rodriguez is now plying his trade with Al Rayyan, who are languishing in eighth place in the Qatar Stars League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Most of the players named on this list enjoyed some form of success – whether it be on or off the pitch – after making their surprise moves, but few can match the feats of Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic was – like Ronaldo – 37 when he left Manchester United in 2018, scoring 53 MLS goals for the Galaxy in two hugely successful seasons before returning to Europe to help Milan win the Scudetto earlier this year.

While Ronaldo now looks unlikely to return to the pinnacle of European football, if Ibrahimovic can do it, few would bet against the Portugal great doing likewise. 

 

There is perhaps no sporting debate that captures the imagination like that concerning the identity of football's greatest ever player.

The incredible goalscoring feats of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo put them at the centre of the discussion, but what about the greats of yesteryear? 

Does the cunning of Diego Maradona or the ingenuity of Johan Cruyff make one of them the best to have played the world's most popular sport?

The ultimate reference for all those iconic players, however, is Pele. The only player to have won three World Cups, the ultimate personification of "o jogo bonito".

With tributes flooding in after the Brazil icon passed away at the age of 82, Stats Perform delves into the Selecao star's incredible career, asking how it compares to those of the game's other greats.

Pele: The World Cup's finest

While any debate over the greatest player of all time will always be subjective, nobody can deny Pele his status as the ultimate World Cup legend.

His introduction to the global stage came at the 1958 tournament in Sweden, where Brazil exercised the demons of 1950 – when they lost the final on home soil to Uruguay in what became known as the "Maracanazo" – to clinch their first title.

A 17-year-old Pele missed Brazil's first two games at the tournament, but the Santos youngster quickly made the Selecao's number 10 shirt his own after coming in for a 2-0 win over the Soviet Union.

From there, he went from strength to strength, scoring his first World Cup goal against Wales before helping himself to a hat-trick against France in the semi-finals.

As Brazil overcame the hosts 5-2 in a thrilling final, Pele – at the age of 17 years and 249 days – scored twice. Only one other teenager has ever netted in a World Cup final – Kylian Mbappe in 2018.

 

As if one outstanding World Cup campaign was not enough, Pele was key to further Selecao triumphs in 1962 and 1970 – assuming a talismanic role in what many consider to be the greatest international team in history at the latter tournament.

Pele's tally of six assists in Mexico remains the highest tally recorded at a single World Cup since records began four years earlier, and his nonchalant lay-off for Carlos Alberto to finish off a flowing team move in Brazil's final win over Italy remains one of the most iconic moments in the tournament's history.

While modern-day detractors may point to Pele's failure to test himself in Europe, his incredible record on the grandest stage of all dictates that he is remembered among the very best, and there can be no doubt as to his unmatched World Cup legacy.

Johan Cruyff: The innovator

If Pele's legacy can be measured in World Cup accomplishments, Cruyff's must be examined in a very different way.

Cruyff's unbelievable tally of 36 chances created at the 1974 World Cup may be a single-tournament record, but it was not enough for the Netherlands to avoid the first of their three final defeats at the competition.

Eight Eredivisie titles, three European Cups and one LaLiga triumph as a player does not exactly do justice to the career of football's great innovator, the man considered responsible for "total football" and by extension, every free-flowing Barcelona or Ajax team that has followed.

If Pele's is best remembered as the World Cup's greatest player, perhaps Cruyff deserves the title of football's finest pioneer.

Diego Maradona: The individualist 

No conversation about football's greatest could be complete without a mention of Maradona, the man who almost single-handedly carried Argentina to football's greatest prize with a perfect blend of skill and cunning.

Astonishingly, Maradona claimed five goals and five assists as Argentina won the 1986 World Cup – a feat no other player has accomplished since detailed data collection began in 1966.

Maradona's quarter-final brace against England, perhaps the most iconic double in history, encapsulated his on-pitch personality perfectly – a mischievous first goal being followed by a truly remarkable second.

Maradona's tendency to carry unfancied sides to success was replicated on the club stage, with his two Serie A triumphs with Napoli earning him a level of adulation that will perhaps never be matched.

A beaten finalist in 1990, not even El Diego could match Pele's World Cup exploits, but the Argentine carved out a reputation as football's finest individualist. 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo: The big-game player

Like Cruyff, neither of the final two players on our list have made their greatest impact at the World Cup, but the incredible goalscoring feats of Ronaldo ensure his place among the game's legends.

In the Champions League – arguably the true pinnacle of the modern game – no player can match Ronaldo's total of 140 goals.

Ronaldo – who scored his 700th goal in club football earlier this season – has also lifted the Champions League trophy on five occasions – a tally no other player has bettered.

The 37-year-old started off the 2022 World Cup by becoming the first male player to net in five different editions of the tournament, though he ultimately ended it in disappointment, making just 10 touches after coming on as a substitute in Portugal's quarter-final defeat to Morocco.

He has been the ultimate big-game player. Whether he is anymore is clearly up for debate. 

Lionel Messi: The Magician 

While some may prefer the efficiency and athleticism of Ronaldo, there is no sight in modern football as joyous as that of Messi slaloming through panicked defences.

Seven Ballon d'Or wins tells you all you need to know, Messi's army of fans may say, while Pep Guardiola's revolutionary Barcelona side – considered by many as the best team to ever take to the field – was built to accommodate the Argentine's incredible mix of elite finishing, dribbling and passing skills. 

 

Until the last two years, the only major blot on Messi's career was a perceived failure to replicate the feats of Maradona, with the expectations of the Argentinian public often seeming to weigh heavily upon the shoulders of the diminutive attacker.

However, having helped the Albiceleste end a 28-year wait to win the Copa America in 2021, Messi then contributed seven goals and three assists to mirror Maradona's achievement of leading Argentina to World Cup glory, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward's campaign in Qatar already regarded as one of the greatest in the tournament's rich history.

While the sight of Messi lifting the World Cup trophy at the Lusail Stadium caused some to declare any debate regarding football's greatest player to be over, the forward's age dictates he will not get the chance to equal Pele's feats on the game's grandest stage.

Everyone has a different opinion on what makes a player the greatest in history, be it their style, their goal record, or their impact on subsequent generations.

The role of football's greatest tournament will always be pivotal, however, and on that basis, Pele will always have a place among the legends of the game.

Brazil legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele has died at the age of 82, leaving behind one of the greatest sporting legacies.

Pele passed away in Sao Paulo on Thursday, leaving the football world in mourning for the loss of one of its all-time legends.

Across a playing career that spanned over two decades, Pele scored for fun and won countless honours.

Here, Stats Perform has picked through some of the iconic moments that helped shape his mystique and reputation in the game.

 

The Selecao double (1958 World Cup Final)

Already a talent back home, Pele was yet to even complete his first year with Brazil when he caught the imagination half the world away in Sweden, with a string of superb performances at his first World Cup.

He capped it by becoming the then-youngest player to feature in a World Cup final, at 17 years and 249 days, and scored a brace to help his side to victory – including an audacious first that saw him volley a great finish.

 

The Copa brace (Santos 3-0 Penarol, 1962 Copa Libertadores Finals)

For back-to-back years, Uruguayan heavyweights Penarol had been the undisputed kings of South American club football, but over a two-legged final, Santos had been able to hold them at bay.

That forced a third leg, a playoff to decide who would be crowned Copa Libertadores champions – Pele scored a rapid-fire brace after the restart to put the result beyond doubt.

The halfway-line shot (Brazil 4-1 Czechoslovakia, 1970 World Cup)

A dozen years on from Sweden, and having missed his side's victorious final in 1962 through injury, Pele headed to Mexico for what many assumed to be a chance at correcting unfinished business.

In their first game of the tournament, Brazil ran out convincing winners against Czechoslovakia – but it was the forward's non-goal, an audacious lob from the halfway line that was just pulled wide, that many remember as an enterprising play.

The wonder save (England 0-1 Brazil, 1970 World Cup)

If another moment from the tournament lives fast in the memory though, it's another miss from Pele – but on this occasion, the attacker can't be blamed for not finishing this effort.

He looked to have done everything right, planting a superb downward header off a cross from out wide, only for England goalkeeper Gordon Banks to acrobatically keep it out. A defining moment for both men.

The dummied miss (Uruguay 1-3 Brazil, 1970 World Cup)

It is a testament to how enshrined 1970 – Pele's third and final World Cup triumph – is in his legacy that it is three chances, three misses that linger in the memory.

This time, Pele took the ball on to Uruguay goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz and dummied him, before rounding to the right to strike. His shot agonisingly missed the bottom-left corner – but still didn't hurt his side's victory.

Pele, the Brazil great and three-time World Cup winner, has died.

The 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

Before Christmas Day, his family travelled to be by his side at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo.

His death was confirmed by his daughter on Thursday.

Pele was regarded by most as one of the greatest players in the history of football, leaving an indelible legacy after a career that lasted 21 years.

He played the majority of his club career at Santos, for whom he scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period. He also represented the New York Cosmos between 1975 and 1977.

But it was his impact for Brazil that truly cemented his status as a sporting icon and all-time football great.

He helped the Selecao to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the tournament's history winning it more than him.

Pele's first World Cup triumph in 1958 came when he was just 17 years and 249 days old, making him the youngest player ever to win it. He also scored in the showpiece game – no one younger has ever netted in a World Cup final.

That was one of 77 goals at international level, a haul that still has not been overhauled by a Brazilian player, with Neymar just two behind.

After his retirement, Pele lent his name and influence to many charitable initiatives and will be remembered as arguably the greatest World Cup player of all time.

Pele's cancer has advanced and the Brazil great will spend Christmas in hospital.

The three-time World Cup winner has spent the past three weeks in the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo.

Pele has had colon cancer since 2021 and had a tumour removed in September of that year.

He has been undergoing regular treatment and a report from the hospital on Wednesday stated that he needs additional care related to renal and cardiac dysfunctions.

The 82-year-old will be in hospital for Christmas, his daughter Kely Nascimento revealed on social media.

In an Instagram post, she wrote: "Our Christmas at home has been suspended.

"We decided with the doctors that, for various reasons, it would be better for us to stay here with all the care that this new family at Einstein gives us.

"Your love for him, his stories and his prayers are a HUGE comfort because we know we are not alone."

The hospital's report stated: "Edson Arantes do Nascimento [Pele] presents progression of the oncological disease and requires greater care related to renal and cardiac dysfunctions.

"The patient remains hospitalised in a common room, under the necessary care of the medical team."

Pep Guardiola believes Lionel Messi is undoubtedly the greatest player of all time, describing arguments in favour of Pele or Diego Maradona as "sentimental".

Messi has long been considered among the best ever, but both he and Cristiano Ronaldo trailed Pele and Maradona in the eyes of some while neither had won the World Cup.

That changed on Sunday, when Messi led Argentina to glory at Qatar 2022, matching Maradona's achievement from 1986.

However, in the eyes of Manchester City manager Guardiola, who coached Messi at Barcelona, there was never any doubt.

"Everyone has their opinion, but nobody can doubt he's there with the greatest of all time," Guardiola said. "For me, I've said many times: he's the best.

"It's difficult to understand how a player can complete what he's done in the past 50 or 70 years.

"The people who saw Pele or [Alfredo] Di Stefano or Maradona, the people can say 'my favourite', but these opinions are sentimental.

"On the other side, if he wouldn't have won the World Cup, the opinion about what he has done for the whole of football and my opinion of how he is as a player wouldn't change absolutely anything.

"But it's normal that it depends if you win [how] you are evaluated. Of course, for him, it's the final cherries on his incredible career."

Messi was joined in the Argentina side by City striker Julian Alvarez and Nicolas Otamendi, who spent five years at the Etihad Stadium between 2015 and 2020.

"We are incredibly happy for him [Alvarez] – congratulations," Guardiola added. "For him, for Nico Otamendi, personally for Messi, for Argentina the country, for a well-deserved champion.

"For Julian, he is with us, and we are delighted. He played a lot, and his contribution was amazing to the team for the way we played. We have a world champion in our team."

Guardiola confirmed Alvarez would now enjoy "a break", but City's other World Cup stars have started to return ahead of Thursday's EFL Cup fourth-round tie against holders Liverpool.

"The players that were at the World Cup are in a better condition than the players who were here, that's for sure," Guardiola explained.

"Sergio [Gomez], Erling [Haaland], Riyad [Mahrez], Cole [Palmer]... the rhythm they miss a little bit compared, for example, to Manu Akanji and Rodri and Aymeric [Laporte] and Nathan [Ake].

"They came back and we saw them so good, perfectly. That's normal. They compete, they train every day, while we had holidays."

Pele is the greatest of all time for Peter Reid, though the former England midfielder knows there is not much to choose between the Brazil legend, Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi.

Argentina's World Cup success in Qatar has surely cemented Messi's place as the greatest player of his generation, though whether the 35-year-old will go down as the best of ever is open for debate.

Messi has now matched his late compatriot Maradona in dragging Argentina to World Cup glory, with the late, great former captain lifting the trophy at Mexico 1986.

Reid played for England against Argentina in the famous 'Hand of God' game in that tournament and was left in Maradona's wake for the mercurial number 10's second goal of the match, which has been immortalised as 'The Goal of the Century'.

Reid, though, quipped Pele – a winner of three World Cups – was his pick.

"Erm, Pele," Reid joked when asked by Stats Perform who was the best out of Messi and Maradona. "They're all icons of the game."

 

Reid is pleased to see Messi finally get his hands on the only trophy that had been missing from his collection.

"Yeah, I think he's been an absolutely outstanding footballer and it was the one major trophy that he hadn't won, and I think he's a credit to himself on the park and off the park," he said.

He added of the tournament: "I thought there was some great games, I thought the best team won it and I still don't know the penalty rule. I haven't got a clue what a penalty is these days, but I did enjoy it, I've got to say."

It was a similar story for Liverpool great Ian Rush, who enjoyed his experience in Qatar supporting Wales.

"I was out there and from a Welsh point of view it was a privilege to be there, 1958 was last time we qualified so no matter where the World Cup was going to be, I was going to be there because it's the first time I have gotten the chance to see Wales playing at the World Cup," Rush told Stats Perform.

"But I enjoyed it and I really enjoyed the World Cup out there. The people were very friendly. It's the icing on the cake for Messi to get his hands on the World Cup."

Brazil great Pele sent congratulations to Argentina after their breathtaking World Cup final victory, describing Lionel Messi's success as the moment "his trajectory deserved".

Pele, confined to hospital recently, has been attentive to events at Qatar 2022 and said Argentina's trophy win would have delighted the late Diego Maradona.

The big moment for 35-year-old Messi means he finally has a World Cup victory to his name, matching compatriot Maradona who was the driving force behind Argentina's Mexico 86 triumph. Maradona died in November 2020 at the age of 60.

"Congratulations Argentina! Certainly Diego is smiling now," Pele wrote on Instagram.

There was sympathy from 82-year-old Pele for Kylian Mbappe, who finished on the losing side despite scoring two penalties and a stunning volley to complete only the second hat-trick in a men's World Cup final, after Geoff Hurst's 1966 treble for England against West Germany.

Argentina lifted the trophy after a 3-3 draw on Sunday, winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2 after misses from Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni.

Messi scored twice in a classic match before both he and Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Mbappe converted penalties at the beginning of the shoot-out.

The Golden Ball, for the tournament's best player, went to Messi for a second time, while Mbappe finished as top scorer with eight goals, earning the Golden Boot.

Three-time World Cup winner Pele hailed Mbappe's feat of hitting the back of the net four times, including the shoot-out, and he also offered praise to Morocco, who finished fourth after becoming Africa's first World Cup semi-finalists.

"Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way," Pele said. "Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved.

"My dear friend, Mbappe, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift it was to watch this spectacle to the future of our sport.

"And I couldn't fail to congratulate Morocco for the incredible campaign. It's great to see Africa shine."

South American football chiefs have urged Brazil to change three of the five stars on their shirts to heart symbols as a tribute to Pele.

Brazil currently wear five stars on their famous yellow jerseys to represent the five World Cup trophies they have won, more than any other nation has managed.

Three of the World Cup triumphs came with Pele in the squad, while no other player has scored more times for Brazil. Neymar is now tied with Pele, having netted his 77th Selecao goal in Friday's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Croatia.

That loss came in the wake of the news that Pele had been hospitalised back home in Sao Paulo, though it was reported the 82-year-old is making "progressive improvement".

CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, sent Pele its best wishes while proposing Brazil make an alteration to their kits.

It said in a statement: "A hundred people gathered this Sunday, December 11, at the CONMEBOL Tree Of Dreams in Doha, Qatar, to honour Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known sportingly as Pele, the only player in soccer history to win three world titles.

"It is in honour of this unprecedented event that the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) proposes to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) that they change three of the five World Cup stars that appear on the chest of their shirt for three hearts, in recognition of Pele.

"Another central focus of the act was the message of encouragement and great strength to Pele, admitted since November 29 at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where he is recovering satisfactorily from a lung infection, according to the doctors."

Alejandro Dominguez, the CONMEBOL president, added: "We are on his side in this game that he is playing. It is the right time to pay tribute to him again and let him know that he will live in the heart of anyone who loves football. Our job is for people to continue to know and love Pele."

Cristiano Ronaldo's farewell to the World Cup was followed by tributes from sporting superstars Pele, Kylian Mbappe and LeBron James.

The Portugal captain said his dream of winning the trophy was over, after his fifth World Cup ended with a quarter-final defeat to Morocco.

Now 37, Ronaldo has conceded the Qatar 2022 tournament was his last World Cup, although he has left the door open for now on playing on in the short term.

Ronaldo lost his place in the side and was a second-half substitute in the last-16 win over Switzerland and also the Morocco game.

He became the first player to score in five separate World Cups, having netted in each edition since 2006, and is also now the joint most-capped player and highest goalscorer in international football history.

However, he never scored in a game in the knockout stages of the World Cup, a blip on an otherwise remarkably successful career.

There was a rapid reaction to an emotional message from Ronaldo on Instagram, where he described the goal of World Cup glory as "the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career".

NBA great James said Ronaldo was a "LEGEND!!", with the Los Angeles Lakers star adding a salute, thank-you and crown emoji to his message.

Three-time World Cup winner Pele, paying close attention to the tournament from his hospital bed in Brazil, wrote: "Thanks for making us smile my friend."

Mbappe, who helped France beat England 2-1 on Saturday to reach the semi-finals, replied to Ronaldo with three emojis. Those were of a goat, referencing Ronaldo's 'greatest of all time' credentials, plus hands together to signal his thanks, and a crown.

Ronaldo's recent interviewer and cheerleader, British journalist Piers Morgan, sent a message containing six sets of clapping hands.

Former Brazil striker Pato wrote to Ronaldo: "You are an example! You inspire people and children around the world. The same ones that criticise you are the ones who want the same success as you. You are a giant! Congratulations."

Jesse Lingard, Ronaldo's former Manchester United team-mate, seemingly got his acronyms muddled, however, as he posted "GAOT".

Neymar is struggling to accept he has become yesterday's man at the Qatar World Cup, saying Brazil's exit has left him "psychologically destroyed".

Defeat on penalties to Croatia on Friday meant Brazil's campaign was over, with the pre-tournament favourites falling to the shock finalists from four years ago.

This may have been Neymar's final World Cup, and he was reluctant to commit to playing on for his country in the immediate aftermath of the game.

His dazzling goal gave Brazil the lead in extra time, but a late equaliser from Bruno Petkovic took the quarter-final to spot-kicks, and it was Zlatko Dalic's side who got the better of Tite's men.

In an Instagram post on Saturday, Neymar wrote: "I'm psychologically destroyed. This was certainly the defeat that hurt me the most, which made me paralysed for 10 minutes and right after I fell into non-stop crying. It's gonna hurt for a loooong time, unfortunately."

Neymar's strike meant the Paris Saint-Germain forward equalled Pele's record of 77 goals for Brazil, but that was no consolation. He came to win a World Cup and may now never get his hands on that trophy.

"We fought until the end," Neymar added. "That's what I'm proud of my team-mates for, because there was no lack of commitment and dedication. This group deserved it, we deserved it, BRAZIL deserved it... But this was not the will of GOD!

"Thank you all for your support with our national team. Unfortunately it didn't work out."

Pele sent Neymar an impassioned and long message after the game, with the Brazil great attempting to rally the current generation while he is in hospital.

The 82-year-old again reacted on Saturday to Neymar's latest message, telling him: "Continue to be an inspiration."

Brazil have not reached a World Cup final since their 2002 triumph gave the Selecao a record fifth title.

Neymar's former Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez also offered his support.

Suarez, who went out with Uruguay at the group stage, told Neymar: "Much strength bro and onwards and upwards. Many times we fall, but we always have the strength to move forward because we fight a lot to succeed in this beautiful sport. Stay strong little brother."

Brazil legend Pele has paid tribute to Richarlison, telling the forward to "never change" after the Selecao were knocked out of the World Cup.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil crashed out of the tournament in Qatar when they were beaten by Croatia at the quarter-final stage on Friday.

Tite's side had hoped to earn their sixth World Cup title before they suffered heartbreak, prompting Richarlison to post an apology to fans on social media.

But Pele - who has been hospitalised amid the tournament back home in Sao Paulo - has offered his encouragement to the 25-year-old, crediting him for his resolve.

"Just keep on keeping on kid," he wrote underneath the former Everton man's Instagram post. "And never change. You made Brazil smile."

Richarlison - who departed the tournament with three goals to his name, including a sensational overhead kick against Serbia in the group stage - emotionally reflected on a missed opportunity.

"Writing this is definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," he penned. "This is a wound that will stay open forever, because we all know the chances we had to get that title.

"My friends and I are going to have to live with it. Some (or many) won't even get another chance. Now it's time to lick our wounds, apologise to all of you and get our head straight."

Brazil's exit represents their fifth successive shortfall in the World Cup, with the Selecao having only reached the semi-finals once since they last won the tournament in 2002.

Croatia will play Argentina next week in the first semi-final, with the 2018 runners-up looking to make feature in back-to-back finals.

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