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European Leagues to Honour Pele With Pre-match Tributes

“Players and match officials will wear black armbands.”

Top flight football matches in England, Spain, Italy, France will all honour Pele before each match in the upcoming round of games, it was announced Friday.

“In tribute to Pele, Premier League clubs will remember his contribution to football by holding a minute’s applause prior to kick-offs,” said a statement on the English Premier League’s Twitter feed.

“Players and match officials will wear black armbands.”

A similar announcement was made by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

Serie A action returns after its winter break on Wednesday where a minute’s silence will be observed for the Brazilian legend.

Games in France’s Ligue 1 will be preceded by a minute’s applause while a photo of Pele with the World Cup is shown on the big screens in the stadiums.

In Spain, La Liga announced that a minute of silence would be observed before each match this weekend.

Brazil started three days of national mourning Friday for Pele, the three-time World Cup winner widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, who died Thursday at the age of 82.

The death of “O Rei” (The King) triggered a wave of tributes from around the globe to the man who both transformed football and transcended the sport.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Friday that Pele’s influence on football would be “eternal”.

“On behalf of Manchester City, the biggest condolences for his family and friends,” Guardiola told reporters.

“Football is football thanks to these types of people.

“Neymar said a great sentence when he said before (Pele) number 10 was just a number and after it became something special.”

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte said he had known about Pele’s quality from an early age.

“The first person who spoke to me about Pele was my father,” he said. “My father was in love with Pele because for him, he was the best player in the world and many times he spoke about him.

“Then I watched some games that he played and especially the final of the World Cup and some situations it was incredible what he did with the ball. The memories are this.”

Former Spurs star Cliff Jones played against Pele when he broke through onto the global stage as Brazil won the 1958 World Cup.

The winger was a member of the Wales team that lost 1-0 to Brazil in the quarter-finals — with Pele on target as he became the youngest player to score at a World Cup at the age of 17 years and 239 days.

In an era before social media, Pele had arrived in Sweden largely unknown to European football, but went onto score six goals in the tournament as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time.

“Pele? We’d never heard of Pele,” Jones told the Daily Mail recently.

“I can remember him picking the ball up in his own half, and he’s gone past three Welsh defenders, smashed the ball towards goal.

“Jack Kelsey’s had to tip it over the bar and we’re all looking around at each other like ‘Who is this kid? Who is he?’

“No-one had heard of him, but my word they were going to.”

© Agence France-Presse

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