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Pele news: Former FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce pays tribute to 'absolute gentleman' and Brazilian soccer legend

newsletter.co.uk 1 hour ago

Pele burst onto the global scene as a 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup, helping Brazil to the first of their record five successes.

Injury affected his contribution to the 1962 and 1966 finals, but he returned to lead Brazil to a third triumph in Mexico in 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time.

Officially, Pele scored 757 goals in 831 games during a glittering career from 1957 to 1977, although club Santos claim his tally was closer to 1,000.

A Brazil fan holds a replica World Cup trophy over a picture of former player Pele ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group G match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar on Friday.
A Brazil fan holds a replica World Cup trophy over a picture of former player Pele ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group G match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar on Friday.

Brazilian news outlet Folha claimed on Saturday that the former striker had been moved to palliative care and that his chemotherapy to treat colon cancer had been suspended.

However an update from the 82-year-old on on Saturday evening presented a more positive picture. It read: “I’m strong, with a lot of hope and I follow my treatment as usual."

Former Irish FA president Jim Boyce, who is also a former FIFA Vice President, paid tribute to the soccer legend.

"When I was involved with FIFA I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Pele on more than one occasion," he told the News Letter.

Former FIFA vice-president  Jim Boyce paid tribute to Pele, whom he met several times.
Former FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce paid tribute to Pele, whom he met several times.

"And in fact one of my treasured possessions is a letter which I have in the house sent personally to me by Pele.

"And obviously like everyone else who loved the game, in my opinion Pele was probably the best player to grace a football field.

"It is very sad news about him at the moment. I just hope, like everybody else, that somehow he can make a miraculous recovery. My thoughts are with him and his family at this time."

Pele wrote to various senior FIFA officials in 1998 to ask for support for a certain candidate to be FIFA President, he said.

"It was a personal letter to me that I still have which was asking me to support a particular candidate for election."

Mr Boyce said he met Pele on a couple of occasions

"He was very nice, very affable, an absolute gentleman," he said.

"The last time I saw him was obviously when I was FIFA chairman."

Mr Boyce was at FIFA from 2011 to 2015, he said.

"I also met him when I was chairman of the referees committee at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014."

Asked how Pele would compare to Northern Ireland's own soccer legend George Best, he said that the local man was also right up there.

"When I say the world's best player he [Pele] was up there. There was obviously Maradonna, George Best too."

Although some say Messi is now the best, he would still put Pele in the top three, he added.

Asked how the greats of yesterday would fare in today's World Cup he said comparisons were not easy.

"It is very difficult to compare because the game is totally different, there is a lot more physical contact today. But I have no doubt that players with ability, like George Best, Pele and Maradonna would still continue to shine today."

England captain Harry Kane, said the team was sending its best wishes to Pele and his family.

He said: "We are very sad to hear news of him being ill but we wish him well, not just me but the whole England set-up.”

France forward Kylian Mbappe said on Twitter: “Pray for the King.”

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