Thousands of mourners gathered on the streets to attend the funeral of their World Cup hero Pele after
Pele was widely renowned as the greatest footballer of all time and his status was reflected as people formed enormous queues in the streets of Sao Paulo to pay their condolences to his family.
Pele – full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento – died at the age of 82 on December 29 after a battle with cancer of the colon. On Tuesday, he was finally laid to rest following three days of mourning in the South American nation.
His coffin was carried via a small vehicle and guarded by 10 military guards as it was taken through the stadium, before they lifted the casket out through the exit. Outside of the stadium, a fire engine waited to pick up the coffin as it drove slowly through the streets of the coastal town of Santos.
The scheduled route meant it would go past the home of his 100-year-old mother, Celeste, before it was carried to other landmarks throughout the city. It then finished with a private burial ceremony held where Pele had chosen to be his final resting place at a cemetery, half a mile away from the stadium.
Locals and fans from other countries queued through the night to pay tribute to the legendary Brazilian footballer. He has been lying in state at the stadium of his former club Santos since Monday.
His coffin was located in the centre of the pitch at the Urbano Caldeira stadium in Sao Paulo, and fans have been camped out on the streets for days in order to ensure they do not miss out on their chance to bid him farewell.
In footage uploaded to social media, fans were seen dancing, singing and chanting to commemorate his death, with huge white flags bearing Pele’s face and the Santos club emblem, as well as the Brazil national flag.
But at the private family service, the mood was much more sombre. His son, daughter and close family were in attendance as Brazil president Lula was spotted in attendance as he embraced Pele’s widow Marcia Aoki.
Santos manager Odair Hellmann and his players were among those to pay their respects to Pele on Monday. He was pictured looking visibly emotional as he walked beside the coffin on Monday.
But Brazil icon Neymar was unable to attend the service at short notice as he is currently in Paris. Instead, his father Neymar Santos senior, arrived on his behalf and explained why his son was unable to make the journey.
“Neymar will not be able to attend Pelé’s funeral,” Neymar Santos senior revealed. “My son asked for me to come here in his presence.”
- The Express report