Football legend: wake for “O Rei”: fans say goodbye to Pelé

football legend
Wake for “O Rei”: Fans say goodbye to Pelé

Numerous people say goodbye to Pelé in the FC Santos stadium. photo

© Matias Delacroix/AP/dpa

Pelé brought the World Cup to Brazil three times and made the beautiful game of the Seleção known all over the world. After his death, the country bows to its football hero.

Thousands of fans bid farewell to Brazilian soccer legend Pelé at the stadium of his longtime club FC Santos. They passed the three-time world champion’s body laid out in the center of the Estádio Urbano Caldeira in the port city of Santos, as shown on TV Globo.

Many flower wreaths were laid at the stadium, including on behalf of the Brazilian Football Association CBF, the club FC Santos, star striker Neymar and former international Romário.

“He did an unforgettable feat, winning his third world championship title in 1970, which I think was Pele’s maximum as an athlete,” said Pele’s one-time teammate and friend Clodoaldo. “For me it was the best participation of an athlete in a world championship, he was perfect, complete.”

FIFA wants to ask countries to name stadiums after Pele

Pelé’s relatives and closest friends gathered right by the coffin. His son Edinho and his widow Marcia Aoki joined hands and said a prayer. FIFA President Gianni Infantino also paid his last respects to Pele. “With a lot of emotions, sadness, but also with a smile because he gave us a lot of smiles,” he said. “As FIFA we will pay tribute to the ‘King’ and ask the whole world to observe a minute’s silence. We will ask all countries in the world to name at least one stadium after Pele so that children know how important he was.”

The coffin had previously been brought to Santos from the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo, about 80 kilometers away. Pelé’s son Edinho published several short videos of the motorcade on Instagram. “We’ve arrived home,” he wrote about the last clip.

The wake is said to last 24 hours

“Brazil owes a lot to Pelé for everything he has done for football and for our country. For the way he has positioned himself throughout his life,” said São Paulo State Governor Tarcísio de Freitas . “It is an honor for Brazil to have the greatest of all time in our ranks. Three of our stars on the shirt were conquered thanks to his genius. He is unique. He is immortal.”

The wake is expected to last 24 hours. Brazil’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was also expected at the stadium. On Tuesday, a funeral procession will take the body through the neighborhood where Pelé’s 100-year-old mother still lives to the Memorial Necropole Ecumênica high-rise cemetery. Pelé is to be buried there with his family.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, as the striker was called by his full name, shaped football like no other. He was already a legend in his lifetime. With 77 goals in 92 international matches, Pelé is still the record goalscorer for the Seleção, the Brazilian national soccer team. However, his 30-year-old compatriot Neymar also scored 77 goals.


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