Monday, January 2, 2023

Pele, the football "King" of Brazil, says his last goodbyes

Final farewell for Pele, Brazil's football 'King'


SANTOS: This week, Brazilians say their final goodbyes to football great Pele, beginning on Monday with a public wake that lasts for 24 hours at the stadium where his long-time team, Santos, plays.

The team's oceanside home, which means "fish" in Portuguese, is expecting a large number of fans to pay tribute to the "King" of football, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer.

Doors to the stadium will open at 10 a.m. local time (1300 GMT). In the center of the field, the coffin containing the body of the only player to win three World Cups will be displayed.

The black-and-white stadium, which takes its name from the neighborhood in which it is situated, is referred to as Vila Belmiro. It can hold 16,000 people.

On Sunday, three enormous flags could be seen in the stands, one of which featured an image of Pele sporting the well-known number 10 on his jersey.

"Long live the king" was on another sign; The third person merely stated, "Pele 82 years."

The stadium will be open until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, according to officials.

Following that, a procession will travel the streets of Santos, a port city located approximately 47 miles (75 km) from Sao Paulo, the state capital.

The 100-year-old Celeste Arantes, Pele's mother, is unaware that her world-famous son has passed away as the parade travels by her home.

Maria Lucia do Nascimento, Pele's sister, told ESPN on Friday, "She doesn't know." She is not aware."

Pele will be buried in a special mausoleum at a cemetery in Santos at the conclusion of the procession.

Pele, who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is widely regarded as the sport's greatest player to date.

A worldwide outpouring of tributes followed his death, and his native Brazil observed three days of national mourning.

In his 21-year career, he scored 1,283 goals, the majority of which came at Santos.

Wreaths of blossoms left by his fans have carried a sprinkle of variety to Vila Belmiro, which houses a bust and a sculpture of the football extraordinary.

Since he is unable to attend the official ceremony, electrician Silvio Neves Souza, who is on vacation from Sao Paulo, went to the stadium on Sunday.

The 54-year-old stated, "I'm sure a lot of people will come to the wake, not just old people who saw him play but also young people."

Another monument modeled after Pele is adorned elsewhere in the city by banners bearing his face.

One sign read, "I loved the world with the ball at my feet."

A massive poster featuring Pele's image and the words "eternal" can be found in Rio de Janeiro at the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

In addition, a minute of silence in honor of Pele was held at the Sunday inauguration of Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

There will be a "robust" deployment for the posthumous tributes, according to military police in the state of Sao Paulo, where digital street screens also pay tribute to the prolific striker.

In preparation for the expected throngs of athletes, politicians, dignitaries, and fans who will be attending the wake, security measures will be enhanced at the Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo.

Pele passed away on December 29 after spending a month in the Albert Einstein Hospital.

On December 21, his sister recalled, "We were with him." We spoke briefly and there was a lot of silence, but I knew he was feeling it and knew he was leaving.

Pele, who was born on October 23, 1940, made his living as a street vendor of peanuts to support his deprived family.

After mispronouncing Bile, the name of a goalkeeper at Vasco de Sao Lourenco, where his father used to play football, he got his well-known nickname.

When Pele began playing professionally with Santos when he was 15 years old, he burst onto the scene.

He led Brazil to its first World Cup championship in 1958 when he was just 17 years old.

World Cup victories in 1962 and 1970 followed. The latter was the high point of his career because he played on a team that many people think is the best team ever.

In recent years, Pele's health had become increasingly precarious.

He continued to be active on social media, supporting Brazil during the World Cup in Qatar and comforting the pre-tournament favorites when they lost in the quarterfinals just three weeks before his death.

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