Michael Caine: It was a privilege to film with ‘outstanding talent’ Pele

Sir Michael Caine has said it was a “great privilege” for him to act alongside the late Brazilian great Pele in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, remembering him as “the most outstanding football talent, who could act”.

The three-time World Cup winner, who scored more than 1,000 goals in his career, died on December 29 aged 82 after a battle with cancer.

He is to be buried on Tuesday after his coffin lay in state at the home of his former club Santos in Sao Paulo for a period to allow thousands of fans to pay their respects.

Michael Caine, seated with Pele and Bobby Moore (Independent Photo Agency/Alamy)
Michael Caine, seated with Pele and Bobby Moore (Independent Photo Agency/Alamy)

Pele’s global stardom on the pitch saw him take on a leading role in the 1981 film about Allied prisoners of war playing an exhibition football match against the Germans.

Acting veteran Sir Michael, 89, starred alongside him as well as Hollywood A-listers Sylvester Stallone and Max von Sydow.

Fellow players including England captain Bobby Moore and Ossie Ardiles, the former Tottenham midfielder who was a World Cup winner with Argentina in 1978, also featured in the sports war film.

In a tribute shared with the PA news agency, Sir Michael said: “It was such a great privilege for me to film with Pele.

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“He was the most outstanding football talent, who could act. He was also a huge global humanitarian icon.”

Stallone previously paid tribute to Pele following the Brazilian footballer’s death by sharing photos of them together on Instagram.

Alongside the post, he wrote: “Pele the great! Rest in peace! This was a good man.”

US actor Will Smith also previously described Pele as “the greatest to ever do it” adding in Portuguese: “Descanse em paz, Rei Pele (Rest in peace King Pele)”.

He was joined by fellow celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Boy George, Richard Branson, Russell Brand and Liam Gallagher in paying tribute to the footballing star.

Pele had been in hospital in Sao Paulo since late November.

His daughter, Kely Nascimento, confirmed his death, writing on Instagram: “We are thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

The country’s government later announced it would hold three days of national mourning for the “great man and superb athlete”.