Pele: Brazilians bid farewell with memorial services and coffin procession

Pele: Brazilians bid farewell with memorial services and coffin procession

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Brazilians began to pay their last respects to the football great skin with a 24-hour public wake that began Monday at the Urbano Caldeira Stadium, home of his former football club Santos.

The wake is open to the public and mourners began entering the stadium Monday morning.

There will be a funeral procession on Tuesday of Pele coffin through the streets of the city of Santos, including passing the street where Pele’s 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, lives.

The procession will continue of Pele final resting place, Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica Cemetery, where a private interment will be held for family members.

Fireworks greeted the hearse carrying Pele’s coffin as it left the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where the three-time World Cup winner died on Thursday of multiple organ failure due to progression of colon cancer.

The hearse was under heavy police escort as it made its way to the stadium, where his coffin will be placed at midfield.

Aerial view of the Urbano Caldeira stadium before the funeral of soccer legend Pele.

Fans had already started lining the streets in the early hours of Monday morning, many holding flags or banners with messages about “King” (“The King”). “Pel, you are eternal,” read one on the side of the highway.

At Santos’ 16,000-seat stadium, several large banners were placed in the stands, one reading “Long Live the King”.

For more than 60 years, the name Pele has been synonymous with football. He featured in four World Cups and is the only player in history to win three, but his legacy extends far beyond his trophies and remarkable goalscoring record.

Pele's casket will be placed in the center of the pitch at the Santos stadium.

“I was born to play football, just as Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pele famously said.

Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history and Brazil held three days of national mourning following his death.

Tributes have poured in from sports stars, politicians and musicians around the world for a man who transcended his sport to become a global icon.

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