Pele, Neymar and Messi among stars and fans to pay tributes following Chapecoense plane crash

Footballing legend Pele has led the messages of condolence for Chapecoense after the plane crash which killed almost all the Brazilian club’s playing squad and coaching staff.

As well as Pele, who has three World Cup winners medals with Brazil, current Brazilian star Neymar also paid his respects.

A post to his Instagram page said: “It’s impossible to believe this tragedy, impossible to believe what happened, impossible to believe that the plane crashed, impossible to believe that athletes, human beings were on this plane, impossible to believe that these people left their families….. Today the world cries, but heaven rejoices in receiving Champions.”

Neymar’s teammate at Barcelona, Argentina’s Lionel Messi wrote on his Facebook page: “My condolences to the relatives of Chapecoense team, Brazil, and all those who died in the tragic plane crash in Colombia. Unfortunately these guys, who were becoming a force in football, took the wrong plane. From today I am fan of #Chapecoense.”

Mi más sentido pésame para todas las familias …

In 1958 Manchester United had to recover from a deadly plane crash of their own – the Munich air disaster – and they too gave a message of condolence.

Italian side Torino also lost players to a plane tragedy in 1949.

Cleber Santana, one of the feared victims, was an Atletico Madrid player from 2007 to 2010. The club said: “We are shocked by the plane crash which carried the @ChapecoenseReal team and our former player Cleber Santana. Our sincere condolences to the families of the deceased … May they rest in peace.”

Before training today they also had a minute’s silence out of respect.

Neighbours Real Madrid and fellow Spanish giants Barcelona did the same.

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea played with Santana during his time at Atletico and also gave a personal message.

“Deeply affected by Medellin’s plane crash,” said De Gea. “I shared locker with Cleber Santana and it’s difficult to reveal how I feel. A huge hug.”

In a separate post he wrote: “Rest in peace friend.”

It is believed 75 out of 81 passengers on board the flight to Medellin in Colombia were killed, including Chapecoense and journalists, and the six surviving have critical injuries.

Chapecoense were on their way to play in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional, which had been due to take place on Wednesday evening.

In Brazil fans of the team gathered to share prayers for their lost heroes.

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