This week, Brazilians said their final goodbyes to football legend Pele. On Monday, a 24-hour public wake was held at the stadium of his longtime team, Santos.
The “King” of football, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 82 following a protracted battle with cancer, will be remembered by a sizable crowd at the team’s oceanfront stadium, known as “Peixe” (fish) in Portuguese.
Doors to the stadium will open at 10:00 a.m. local time (1300 GMT). The only player to have won three World Cups will have his remains on display in a coffin in the field’s middle.
The stadium, which is black and white and is called Vila Belmiro after the neighborhood where it is situated, can hold 16,000 spectators.
Three enormous flags were visible in the stands on Sunday, one of which featured Pele wearing the renowned number 10 on his jersey.
The third simply said, “Pele 82 years,” while the second added, “Long live the king.”
According to organizers, entry to the stadium would be permitted up until 10:00 am on Tuesday.
A procession will thereafter be held through Santos’s streets. Santos is a port city located around 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Sao Paulo, the state capital.
The march will pass by the home of Pele’s mother, Celeste Arantes, who is 100 years old and is not aware that her renowned son has passed away.
“She doesn’t know,” Pele’s sister Maria Lucia do Nascimento told ESPN on Friday. “She is not conscious.”
Pele will be buried in a unique mausoleum at a cemetery in Santos where the parade will come to a finish.
Pele, who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is widely regarded as the greatest player to have ever played the beautiful game.
His passing generated a flood of condolences from all across the world, and his native Brazil observed three days of national mourning.
In a 21-year career, he scored 1,283 goals, with the majority coming while playing for Santos.
The football legend’s bust and statue are located at Vila Belmiro, which is decorated with floral wreaths left by his supporters.
Since he won’t be able to attend, Sao Paulo electrician Silvio Neves Souza took a time on Sunday to visit the official ceremony.
“I’m sure a lot of people will come to the wake, not just old people who saw him play, but also young people,” the 54-year-old said.
Elsewhere in the city, banners with Pele’s face decorate another monument erected in his likeness.
“I loved the world with the ball at my feet,” read one sign.
A huge picture of Pele bearing the word “forever” may be found at the Brazilian Football Confederation’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.
The ceremony for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration on Sunday began with a moment of silence in Pele’s honor.
There will be a “strong” deployment for the posthumous honors, according to military police in Sao Paulo state, where digital public screens also honor the prolific striker.
In preparation for the anticipated arrival of crowds of athletes, politicians, dignitaries, and fans for the wake, security will be stepped up at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo.
Before passing away on December 29th, Pele spent a month in the hospital at the Albert Einstein Medical Center.
“We were with him” on December 21, his sister recounted. “It was very quiet, we talked a little, but I already sensed that he was feeling it, he already knew he was leaving.”
Pele, who was born on October 23rd, 1940, raised himself by hawking peanuts on the streets to support his struggling family.
After mispronouncing the name of a goalie at Vasco de Sao Lourenco, where his footballer father had played, named Bile, he acquired his well-known moniker.
When Pele was 15 and began playing professionally with Santos, he burst onto the scene.
He led Brazil to its first World Cup victory in 1958 at the age of just 17.
Then came the 1962 and 1970 World Cup victories. The latter was the apex of his career because he was a key member of what many people think is the greatest squad in history.
Pele’s health had gotten progressively worse in previous years.
Three weeks before his passing, he was still active on social media, supporting Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar and comforting the pre-tournament favorites when they lost in the quarterfinals.
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