World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi led the rest of football-crazy Argentina in bidding Brazilian hero Pele farewell on social media Thursday, posting photos of himself and "The King" taken in happier times.

"Rest in peace, Pele," Messi wrote on Instagram after the announcement that Pele had died in hospital at the age of 82 after a fight with cancer.

Former player Gabriel Batistuta, who was Argentina's all-time World Cup top scorer until Messi recently broke his record, also expressed his sympathies.

"Thank you for everything you gave to the football world. RIP legend," he wrote.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, an ardent football fan, took to Twitter to declare: "One of the best footballers in history has left us."

The president added: "We will always remember those years when Pele dazzled the world with his skills. A big hug to his family and the people of Brazil who will carry him in their hearts."

Many Argentines on social media remembered the message Pele had sent on the death of their own Diego Maradona, another legend, who died at the age of 60 in 2020.

"One day, I hope, we will play soccer together in the sky," Pele wrote at the time.

Argentine football clubs also expressed their condolences, among them Boca Juniors and River Plate.