Pelé: Brazilians will say their last goodbyes with a funeral wake and a procession of coffins


Brazilians will pay their last respects to football great Pelé with a 24-hour public vigil, which begins Monday at the Urbano Caldeira stadium, home of his former soccer club Santos.

On Tuesday, a funeral procession will then carry Pele’s coffin through the streets of the town of Santos, including passing the street where Pele’s 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, lives.

The procession will continue to Pelé’s final resting place, the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica Cemetery, where a private funeral will be held for the family members.

Fireworks greeted the hearse carrying Pele’s coffin as it left Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo, where the three-time World Cup winner died on Thursday from multiple organ failure due to the progression of colon cancer.

The hearse was under heavy police escort as he made his way to the stadium, where his coffin will be placed in the middle of the field.

Fans had already started lining the streets in the early hours of Monday morning, many holding flags or banners with messages for ‘O Rey’ (“The king”). “Pelé, you are eternal”, we read at the edge of the highway.

Inside the 16,000-seat Santos Stadium, a number of large banners had been placed in the stands, one of which read “long live the King”.

For more than 60 years, the name Pelé has been synonymous with football. He has played in four World Cups and is the only player in history to win three, but his legacy extends far beyond his trophy and remarkable goalscoring record.

“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pelé said.

Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history and Brazil held three days of national mourning after his death.

Sports stars, politicians and musicians around the world have paid tribute to a man who transcended his sport and became a global icon.


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