Ipswich Town legend Russell Osman has paid a touching tribute to football icon Pelé following his death at the age of 82 on Thursday. 

Osman, who starred alongside the Brazilian in the 1981 classic film 'Escape to Victory', said the superstar leaves behind a great legacy in the game and that "everyone who loved football loved Pelé." 

Sudbury Mercury: Pelé died on Thursday at the age of 82Pelé died on Thursday at the age of 82 (Image: Newsquest)

"I would watch him in the 1970 World Cup while I was growing up," he said.

"To me, he solidified what a goalscorer and an entertainer should be. 

"He was the first to show you could play with inspiration, improvisation and respect for your opponents.

"He got on well with Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks, despite being a rival."

Osman was then cast as a prisoner of war, Doug Clure, alongside Pelé and famous faces including Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and Moore himself.

He also joined Town teammates John Wark, Kevin Beattie, Laurie Sivell, Kevin O'Callaghan, Robin Turner and Paul Cooper.

Sudbury Mercury: Bobby Robson and the Ipswich Town stars who appeared in Escape to Victory at the Ipswich premiere of the filmBobby Robson and the Ipswich Town stars who appeared in Escape to Victory at the Ipswich premiere of the film (Image: Contributed)

"For us Ipswich boys, it was a bit of an unknown situation," Osman recalled. 

"We knew Pelé was flying out to meet us in Budapest for filming, but we didn't realise we were going to be spending five whole weeks with him. 

"He made it all so easy. He was never acting like he needed to be centre of attention.

"He was so accommodating to both us the footballers and the actors as well. 

"He was just a normal guy to be honest."

Sudbury Mercury: Pelé at the 1966 World CupPelé at the 1966 World Cup (Image: PA)

Osman claimed Pelé took centre stage on directing the football scenes - showing everyone how the game should be played. 

"He took control of the game and helped everyone with the match choreography," he said.

"But he did it in a way that was so respectful and always ensured everyone was comfortable.

Sudbury Mercury: Russell Osman playing for Ipswich TownRussell Osman playing for Ipswich Town (Image: Newsquest)

"It was incredible because even at 40 years old, he still had it and he was still an entertainer."

Pelé had a dazzling career, first appearing on the global scene as a 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup - helping Brazil to the first of their record five successes.

Injury affected his contribution to the 1962 victory, but he returned to lead Brazil to a third triumph in Mexico in 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time.

Officially, Pelé scored 757 goals in 831 games during a career from 1957 to 1977, although club Santos claim his tally was closer to 1,000.

The legendary footballer, who had been battling colon cancer since 2021, died on December 29.

Sudbury Mercury: Pelé won three World Cups with BrazilPelé won three World Cups with Brazil (Image: PA)

He had been admitted to the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo on November 29.

Earlier this week, Pele’s daughter, Kely Nascimento, had confirmed members of his family would spend Christmas in the hospital with him.

On Saturday, she posted a picture on Instagram which showed her sitting next to one of Pele’s sons, Edinho, and two of his children at the hospital.

"He (Edson) is here," Kely Nascimento wrote alongside the picture, adding in a hashtag "I will not be leaving, nobody will take me out of here."

His death was later confirmed on Thursday by family on social media.

He leaves behind a legacy of being considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time - often in competition with greats such as Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

"Watching him as an overseas player was incredible," Osman concluded. 

"He inspired so many and I was so fortunate to have been able to share a pitch with him. 

Sudbury Mercury: Russell Osman at Portman Road in 2022Russell Osman at Portman Road in 2022 (Image: Newsquest)

"We knew he had been ill for quite a long time and that he had been in hospital for a while. 

"His death is a great loss, but everyone should celebrate his life.

"I know that when I die I want everyone to think about the goals I scored - though I know there really aren't that many - and the games I played in.

"I think that's what Pelé would want - for everyone to remember what a great of the game he truly was."