Pele sends emotional message to Messi, Mbappé for Maradona

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Pele has sent a message of great praise to Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe after the World Cup final, and an emotional word for the departed Diego Maradona.

Argentina beat France on penalties having played out an epic 3-3 draw after extra-time, with Messi scoring twice and Mbappe becoming only the second man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

It was arguably the greatest World Cup final ever and Pele was revelling in the showcase of football in Qatar afterwards, with kind words for the stars of the final, but also surprise semi-finalists Morocco and Maradona.

‘Today football continued to tell its story, as always, in a passionate way,’ Pele posted on Instagram.

‘Leo Messi winning his first World Cup, as his career deserved . My dear friend, Kylian Mbappé, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift it was to see this spectacle for the future of our sport . And I can’t stop congratulating Morocco on the incredible campaign. It’s great to see Africa shining bright.

‘Congratulations, Argentina! Diego is surely smiling right now .

Pele’s health has been improving after a serious scare in recent weeks and he also posted a long open letter after Brazil’s surprise exit at the quarter-final stage to Croatia.

‘Open letter about my dream,’ he wrote. ‘Life is an opportunity. What we do with it is up to each of us. We get it right and we get it wrong. In victory we celebrate. In defeat we learn. Life is always generous and offers new beginnings.

‘With each passing day we begin a new journey. And in this cycle we nurture dreams that never die, regardless of the setbacks of the journey.

‘This is true for everyone, but when your dream is to be a footballer, the opportunities are much more rare and the dreams much more distant.

‘The setbacks are no more painful than those of anyone else in life, however they are judged by many more people, don’t you think?

‘Despite the pain we felt with our World Cup elimination, I ask Brazilians to remember what led us to have the first five stars on our chest. It is love that moves us.

‘I don’t know why we are so crazy about football. Whether it is love for the bonding of true friendships around the sport, for the scream of the goal or for forgetting all the problems we face, even if it is only for 90 minutes.

‘Perhaps it is the love for the fight against poverty, hunger and drugs, which football takes on in so many communities that make up such a vast country. The virtues of the most beautiful sport are many. Even more so here in Brazil.

‘It doesn’t matter what the reason is. What matters is that this crowd of supporters brought us together, at a time when we needed unity so badly. And my dream is that this feeling for each other and for our country is not just a passing one.

‘This goal may seem impossible. But as a child I had another dream that also seemed impossible: to win the World Cup for my father.

‘Speaking of dreams, don’t think that the dreams of our athletes are over. I know you are still dreaming of the sixth star, like me when I was a kid. Our conquest has just been postponed.

‘To my friends, athletes and coaching staff of the Selecao, I leave my admiration, solidarity and affection.

‘To all Brazilians, I wish that the union and love that unites us in sport will last a lifetime. The dream belongs to all of us. Love, love and love.’