Brazilian soccer great Pele has paid tribute to Muhammad Ali after the boxing icon's passing aged 74.

Arguably the two greatest sportsmen of all time, Pele and Ali dominated the sporting landscape throught the 1960s and 70s, while their legends remain intact.

Pele said of Ali last year: "He was a completely different character - more fun, making jokes all the time. We used to get together for dinner and he would tease me, saying he was more famous than me."

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It was confirmed that three-time world heavyweight champion Ali had passed away on Friday, having battled Parkinson's disease for 32 years.

In response, Pele posted a moving tribute on Instagram, sharing an iconic meeting between the pair when the former striker played in the United States with the New York Cosmos.

"The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss," he said. "Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero.

"We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming. I wish him peace with God. And I send love and strength to his family."

Zinedine Zidane and Didier Drogba were among the footballing luminaries also paying tribute to the the sporting icon widely considered as the greatest heavyweight boxing has even seen.