• Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023

Brazil bids farewell to ‘king of soccer’ Pele with 24-hour wake


Guilherme dos Santos Malaquias, city councillor, and his son Gustavo dos Santos Malaquias pose in front of the flag with Pelés face. Santos fans can say goodbye to Brazilian soccer legend Pele on Monday. — Reuters
Guilherme dos Santos Malaquias, city councillor, and his son Gustavo dos Santos Malaquias pose in front of the flag with Pelé’s face. Santos fans can say goodbye to Brazilian soccer legend Pele on Monday. — Reuters 

SANTOS, BRAZIL: The Brazilian coastal city of Santos, which sporting giant Pele turned into a by-word for soccer brilliance during a glittering club career, started bidding goodbye to its hero on Monday with a 24-hour wake.

Mourners lined up to see Pele’s body in an open casket in the center of the field at the Vila Belmiro stadium, home of the Santos Football Club. Pele died on Thursday at the age of 82 after battling with colon cancer.

“Pele leaves millions of Santos fans across our country. He was the creator of Brazilian soccer,” said Antonio da Paz, a fan outside the stadium for the memorial that began at 10 a.m.

Fans queue to see and give their last tributes and farewell to Pele. — Reuters
Fans queue to see and give their last tributes and farewell to Pele. — Reuters

President Gianni Infantino was among the first to arrive for the service and said he would ask every country to name a stadium after Pele, the only man to win the World Cup three times as a player.

“Pele is eternal,” Infantino told reporters. “FIFA will certainly honor the ‘king’ as he deserves. We have asked all football associations in the world to pay a minute of silence before every game and will also ask them, 211 countries, to name a stadium after Pele. Future generations must know and remember who Pele was.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is pictured with mourners, as the body of Brazilian soccer legend Pele lays in state on the pitch of his former club Santos Vila Belmiro stadium. — Reuters
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is pictured with mourners, as the body of Brazilian soccer legend Pele lays in state on the pitch of his former club Santos’ Vila Belmiro stadium. — Reuters

Edson Arantes do Nascimento — Pele’s given name — was born in 1940 in the small country town of Tres Coracoes, but moved to Santos in 1956 and lived there for most of his life.

In the early hours Monday, his body arrived under fireworks in the city of about 430,000 people from Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital.

Peles body arrives at Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos — Reuters
Pele’s body arrives at Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos — Reuters 

Former Brazil midfielder Ze Roberto and Pele’s son Edinho helped placing his coffin in the field, TV footage showed. Floral wreaths were sent by the likes of Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Real Madrid.



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