Namibian President Hage Geingob was among African leaders who paid tribute to the life and legacy of Pelé, the 82-year-old Brazilian soccer star who died Thursday night in São Paulo following a battle with cancer.
“I met the legend Pelé and Eusébio in 1967 in New York during an exhibition game,” Geingob said in a Twitter message, referring also to the Portuguese star. “Pelé epitomized the uniting force of the beautiful game of soccer. His contributions in bringing people of different races together is a legacy to be cherished across generations.”
In Angola, where President João Lourenço had already departed for Brazil and the presidential inauguration of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, sporting officials offered their condolences at the loss of “King Pelé.” The head of the Angolan Football Federation, Artur Almeida e Silva, lamented the loss of a global legend in a statement sent to his Brazilian counterpart.
President Macky Sall of Senegal, the current African Union president, said the football world had lost its greatest.
“By his virtuosity, his genius and his humanism, the King Pelé forever marked the history of football, the only player to have won three World Cups,” he said.
And President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa offered his condolences in a letter to outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro. Pelé visited South Africa in 1995 and met President Nelson Mandela, he said, with the two sharing common social and political causes.
A public wake for Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, will be held at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos on Monday. Private funeral services will follow the public memorial.