Sporting legend Muhammad Ali, who inspired millions of people throughout his boxing career and beyond, passed away aged 74 on Friday evening in the USA and will be buried next Friday.
Tributes poured in on Saturday as Ali’s family announced that he will be buried in his native Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.
Ali suffered from a respiratory illness which was complicated by Parkinson’s disease.
The world football community paid tribute to ‘the greatest of all time’.
Brazil legend Pele wrote on Twitter: “The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss. Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol…”
Ex-England striker Michael Owen added, also on Twitter: “The man who took the art of boxing allied with showmanship to a level never reached before or since. RIP.”
Yaya Toure, the Ivory Coast star, also paid tribute to Ali on Twitter, writing: “RIP Muhammad Ali. You will always mean something special to me, Africa and the world. Thank you for all you did” along with a photo of Ali in Africa.
Incoming Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti wrote: “The greatest. Impossible is nothing #RIPMuhammadAli”
Manchester United winger Ashley Young added: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, the hands can’t hit, what the eyes can’t see. RIP Muhammad Ali.”
Superstar singer Alicia Keys, who performed at the 2016 Champions League final last week, wrote, along with a photo of her and Ali: “What a beautiful life full of powerful messages! Thx #MuhammadAli for all the potential u helped us see in ourselves.”
US President Barack Obama, who had Ali at his inauguration in 2009, said: “Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.
“He stood with (Martin Luther)King and (Nelson)Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing.
“It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognise today.
“He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.
George Foreman, who Ali beat in the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire in 1974, said: “Muhammad Ali was what I call beautiful. He has been something special.
“The man was the greatest. Forget about boxing, he was one of the greatest men to appear on television, in the media.
“Little did I know I would be facing something greater than a boxer,” Foreman said of the fight.
“He stood the test. He took everything I had and gave back worse. I loved the man. I wanted to beat him and knock him out but I loved the man.”
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