President Lula meditates in front of Peles coffin

President Lula meditates in front of Pelé’s coffin

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gathered in Santos (southeast) on Tuesday morning in front of Pelé’s coffin, which is on display at the stadium of his first exploits, where tens of thousands of people have gathered since the previous day.

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Arriving by helicopter near the stadium, Lula Pelé’s widow immediately offered his condolences as he arrived under the large canopy where the coffin is on display.

The head of state then attended a brief religious ceremony in front of the remains of Pelé before a funeral procession began in the streets of Santos, a major port in Sao Paulo state, then the funeral.

According to AFP journalists present at the scene, the fan parade lasted all Monday and then continuously throughout the night. According to TV Globo, around 150,000 people came to pay their last respects to the three-time world champion.

“There are many, many people. It’s great, he deserves it,” Katia Cruz, 58, a pensioner and Santos FC fan, who stayed at the stadium until 1:30am, told AFP. But her husband, “heartbroken”, preferred to stay at home.

After mostly waiting in long lines, Pele fans from all over Brazil slowly and calmly approached the big canopy since Monday morning.

At the end of this funeral service, which will have lasted 24 hours, the funeral procession will have to cross Santos from 10:00 (13:00 GMT) and will notably pass by the home of Pelé’s mother, Celeste Arantes. She is 100 years old but suffers from cognitive impairment and is unaware of her son’s death.

Pelé’s remains are then taken to his final resting place, a purpose-built mausoleum in a cemetery, for a Catholic rite ceremony in strict family intimacy.

On Monday, thousands of fans and football dignitaries, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, gathered in front of Pele’s black coffin, placed in the center of the stadium of FC Santos, the club for which he played from 1956 to 1974. “Pele is eternal . He’s a global football icon,” Infantino said on Monday, adding that the FA will ask all member countries to name a stadium after Pele.

Antonio Carlos Pereira da Silva, a 36-year-old artist, said he arrived at midnight to be one of the first to walk past the open, tulle-veiled coffin that holds the man many believe to be the world’s greatest footballer , rests , the only one to be world champion three times in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

“If I said I didn’t cry when he died, I would be lying,” he told AFP. “Pelé taught us so many things. Not just in Brazil, but all over the world”.

Since his death, tributes have poured in from around the world, with football’s biggest names, current and former, hailing his genius for the ‘beautiful game’.

Pele’s third wife, Marcia Cibela Aoki, dressed in black and in tears, ran her hand over the head of the footballer, whom she married in 2016. Three of Pele’s six surviving children were present.

She also placed a rosary in her coffin, which was draped with the Santos FC and Brazil flags.

Relatives paid tribute to him touchingly and held their hands around his coffin in prayer.

Dozens of wreaths were placed around the coffin, sent by football personalities such as Parisian star SG Neymar or foreign clubs such as Real Madrid.

He “inspired all generations, he was always a reference,” said the father of Neymar, the current number 10 in the Seleçao, who stayed in Paris and equaled the number of goals Pelé had for the national team (77) during the last World Cup has cup in qatar.

Inside the 16,000-capacity stadium, three giant banners in the stands show Pelé from behind wearing his famous flocked number 10 shirt, and two others that read “Vive le roi” and “Pelé 82 years old.”

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, spent a month at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo until he died on Thursday at the age of 82 from kidney and heart failure, bronchopneumonia and adenocarcinoma of the colon, according to local media published death certificate.