Football lovers around the world have flocked into Brazil to pay final respects to Brazil football icon Pele.
The well-wishers hit Vila Belmiro stadium in large numbers to Santos and waited for hours awaiting the procession for the football icon.
The Vila Belmiro stadium, which belonged to Pele’s former club Dos Santos in Sao Paulo, Brazil was inundated with thousands ready to pay tributes to Pele with white flowers and wreathes.
Pele reportedly chose where he will be buried – a special mausoleum at a burial site on the ninth floor of a nearby cemetery which will allow him to watch over the Santos stadium.
Dignitaries in the world of football graced the occasion. Pele’s son Edinho and former Brazil player Ze Roberto, including FIFA President Gianni Ifantino were among those who attended the procession.
Pele’s coffin was placed on the pitch during the ceremony to aid the fans and sympthizers who wanted to pay their tributes to the renowned football star.
The coffin was draped in the flag of his country Brazil and his former club Dos Santos.
As expected, Vila Belmiro Stadium, where the procession took place was filled, and fans had to navigate long queues to be able to have access to the coffin.
Pele’s son Edinho acted as the pallbearer as his Dad’s casket arrived in the company of funeral workers who carried the casket.
Also in attendance, was Pele’s widow Marcia Aoki. She was pictured placing a cross pendant on Pele’s body before giving a hug to Edihno.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez led the procession for the football icon.They were the first to pay their respects to the football icon.
Pele’s image was hoisted in three giant flags in the stands of the 16,000-capacity Vila Belmiro. The flags bore the inscriptions, ”Long live the king.” The third said simply, ‘Pele 82 years.’
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele is widely considered as the greatest footballer in the history of football.
News of his demise swept through the world like a whirlwind with football fans, players, and high-profile personalities sending tributes to the bereaved family and the Brazilian people.
Brazil declared three days of national mourning after Pele was confirmed death at the Albeit Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo in Brazil.
He scored 1,283 goals in a career of 21 years, most of them played at Santos.
Before the wake, Dos Santos had already immortalized the football icon with a statute of the great football legend.
At the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro, a giant poster with Pele’s image bears the word ‘eternal.’
A minute silence was dedicated to Pele when Brazil sworn in their new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Pele died on December 29 at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo after a long battle with cancer
Born on October 23, 1940, Pele grew up in the poor neighbours of Sao Paulo, where he sold peanuts to support his dream, playing for various amateur outfits in Brazil.
He broke into the football world at the age of 15, playing for Santos. At the age of 16, Pele made his appearance for Brazil national team and made his World Cup debut at 17, winning it as a youngster.
Dubbed as the King of Football, Pele would go ahead to defend the World Cup title in 1962 at the age of 21, and won it again eight years later in 1970 at the age of 29.
He is the first and only player in football history to win three different World Cup trophies.
His health condition worsened in recent times as he battled colon cancer. He underwent surgery to remove a tumor in September, 2022 and struggled to regain his fitness since then.
On December 29, he was confirmed death at the Albeit Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. Pele died at the age of 82.