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“We played today to honour him.. Thanks Pele, R.I.P.” – Brazil’s Luisa Stefani pays tribute to football legend

The Brazilian football legend passed away on Thursday at the age of 82

Luisa Stefani, Guadalaraja 2022 Luisa Stefani, Guadalaraja 2022 – © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

On Thursday, the sporting world lost one of its brightest luminaries as football legend Pele passed away at the age of 82 in Sao Paolo. The man, who was nicknamed the ‘Black Pearl’ scored a world record 1,281 goals, and is the only player in football history to win the World Cup on three occasions.

On Friday, Brazil’s Luisa Stefani, an Olympic bronze medalist, paid tribute to her countryman during her on-court interview at the United Cup, the new mixed team tennis event being held in Australia.

Brazil had already lost their tie against Italy as they trailed 3-1 before Stefani and Rafael Matos took to the court to play Matteo Berrettini and Camilla Rosatello in the final mixed doubles rubber. Stefani and Matos won a tight battle 6-4, 6-7, 10-4 and then the Brazilian dedicated their performance to her late compatriot.

“Everybody, not just us, but the whole of Brazil and the world is going to miss him. He’s got a great personality and he was a great ambassador for football but also for sport in general. He managed to get people united which is what we are trying to do with this kind of tournament,” Stefani said.

“He united people from all kinds of places and all kinds of societies. We played today to honour him and celebrate him because that’s what he did. He played with his heart. He showed love to everybody. So that’s what Team Brazil is going to do not only today but for the rest of the tournament and the rest tofhe year. Thanks Pele, Rest in Peace!!”

Rafael Nadal, who never saw Pele on the field as a player, also posted a message on social media paying tribute to the legendary footballer.

“Today a great world sport icon is gone again. A sad day for the world of football, for the world of sport. His legacy will always remain. I didn’t see him play, I wasn’t that lucky, but they always taught me and told me that he was the King of football.”

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