The joy and excitement generated by last month’s World Cup in Qatar was enjoyed by millions of people around the world. But as the prestigious football tournament reached its conclusion, one of the greatest players ever to grace it was fighting for his life in Brazil. Sadly, Pele died on December 29 after a battle with colon cancer. He will be greatly missed. Poor health had kept him out of the limelight in his final years. He was 82. But memories of his dazzling performances for the Brazilian team live on. Pele personified everything good about football. He transformed the sport into the beautiful game. His grace, athleticism, flair, style and skill propelled Brazil to three World Cup wins. Pele remains the only player to have won the competition three times. His exhilarating performance in the final against Italy in 1970, was a defining moment. The image of the beaming Brazilian in his bright yellow shirt, became an icon. Brazil’s enduring reputation for footballing excellence has much to do with his achievements all those years ago. Pele’s death sparks memories of famous Hong Kong visit Pele rose from extreme poverty to be voted the most famous person in the world. He began playing football as a kid in the street and made his first World Cup appearance at 17. His success came in an era when skilful players were subjected to brutal treatment from opponents during matches. Pele, one of the first black superstars, also endured much racial abuse. After retiring from football, he remained in the public eye for years, pursuing business ventures, promoting products, dabbling in politics and playing his guitar. He met US presidents and received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth. Pele was revered around the world, including in Hong Kong. He visited the city several times, notably to play for his club Santos soon after winning that famous 1970 World Cup. As Pele lived out his final days, with his family in attendance, Argentinian star Lionel Messi shone in Qatar leading his team to victory. Many declared Messi to be the greatest footballer of all time. That will be much debated. But no one can rival Pele’s long lasting impact on the sport. He will, forever, be “the king of football”.