SANTOS, Brazil (AP) — Thousands of mourners, including high school students and Supreme Court justices, began filing their papers past Pele’s corpse at the 100-year-old stadium on Monday. At this stadium he made his hometown team his one of the best in Brazil.
soccer legend dies Thursday after battling cancer. He was 82 years old, the only player to win the World Cup three times.
Pele’s coffin, covered in flags of Brazil and Santos FC football clubs, was placed in the midfield area of Vila Belmiro, a stadium on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. A Catholic mass will be held there Tuesday morning before he is buried in a nearby cemetery.Brazil’s newly inaugurated president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva We arrive at Vila Belmiro shortly before Pele’s coffin is removed from the stadium.
The celebrated 16,000-seat stadium was surrounded by mourners and covered with Pele-themed decorations. Fans coming out of the stadium said they had been waiting in line for three hours under the scorching sun.
Forty-five years after he played his last game, Pele is still central to the story of the Brazilian nation.
Giovana Sarmento, 17, came with her father, who wore a Brazilian shirt with Pele’s name on it.
“I’m not a Santos fan, nor is my father. But this guy invented the Brazilian national team. He made Santos stronger and bigger. He’s the greatest man ever.” and we had to honor him,” she said.
In the 1960s and 70s, Pele was probably the most famous athlete in the world. He met presidents and queens, and the civil war was put on hold in Nigeria to see him play. Many Brazilians credit him for putting the country on the world stage.
Engineer Caio Zarque, 35, was also in line wearing a Brazilian shirt. “Pele is the most important Brazilian of all time. He made football important for Brazil, he made Brazil important for the world,” he said.
A row of Pelé’s number 10 shirts lay behind one of the goals and fluttered in the city’s summer breeze. The speaker “Eu sou Pelé” (“I am Pele”) was recorded by the Brazilian himself.
Salesman Claudio Carranza, 32, said: “I never saw him play, but loving Pele is a tradition passed down from father to son at Santos. I learned his history and his goals. I realized how important Santos FC is because he is important.I know that some Santos fans have kids who support other teams. But that’s because they never saw Pele in action, and if they did, they’d feel this gratitude I feel right now.
Santos FC said more than 1,100 journalists from 23 countries attended the funeral. Pele’s dignitaries and friends who were present gave speeches at the funeral.
Among them was Pele’s best friend Manoel Maria, a former Santos player. “If I had all the wealth in the world, I would never be able to repay what this man did for me and my family. He was a man. The greatest of all time. His legacy will outlive all of us. And you can see it in the long lines of people of all ages here.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino told journalists that every country should name a stadium after Pele.
“I’m here with a lot of emotion and sorrow, but he gave us so many smiles that I also have a smile on my face,” Infantino said. “At FIFA, we pay tribute to The King and ask the world for a minute’s silence.”
Another fan and friend was Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendez.
“It’s a very sad moment, but we now know that this legendary player means real things to our country,” Mendes said at a press conference. I have a picture of him as a keeper, and a shirt signed by him.I have a huge collection of DVDs, pictures, and him.”
Mendez also said that despite his worldwide fame, Pele is a humble man and deserves all respect.
The coffin is guided through the streets of Santos before burial on Tuesday.
Pele had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer since 2021. The medical center where Pele was hospitalized said she died of multiple organ failure due to cancer.
The football star led Brazil to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and remains one of the all-time top scorers in the team’s history with 77 goals. Neymar equaled Pele’s record at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
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