Pele’s coffin carried through streets of Santos as public bid final farewell to football legend

World

The coffin of football legend Pele has been carried through the streets of Santos in Brazil as the public paid their final respects to the sporting icon.

Thousands of fans gathered to watch the procession to say their last goodbye to the three-time World Cup winner ahead of his private burial.

The casket, draped in a Brazilian flag, passed through the neighbourhood where Pele’s 100-year-old mother lives, as mourners gathered.

The former Santos FC star, originally named Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died on Friday aged 82, after a battle with colon cancer.

 A mourner reacts as Brazilian soccer legend Pele is transported by the fire department, from his former club Santos' Vila Belmiro stadium
A mourner reacts as Brazilian soccer legend Pele is transported by the fire department, from his former club Santos' Vila Belmiro stadium

The star, widely considered as the greatest footballer of all time, will be buried today in the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery overlooking the Santos stadium.

His last wish was selecting the ninth floor of a cemetery in his home city – in tribute to his father who wore the number 9 shirt as a player.

Brazil observed three days of national mourning after his death, as 230,000 people went to view his open casket in the 16,000-seat stadium where he lay in state for 24 hours.

The casket of Brazilian soccer legend Pele is transported by the fire department, from his former club Santos' Vila Belmiro stadium
Pic: Marcello Zambrana/AGIF/AP
Image:
Pic: Marcello Zambrana/AGIF/AP

‘Thank you for everything you did for the game’

Football fans and sporting icons around the world have continued to pay tribute to the star.

Former England striker Gary Lineker tweeted: “Goodbye Pele. Thank you for everything you did for the game that you made so beautiful.”

Pele's casket carried into the cemetery
Image:
Pele’s casket carried into the cemetery

However, FIFA president Gianni Infantino came under fire for taking a selfie while visiting Pele’s coffin, which some critics on social media described as “shameless”.

Mr Infantino defended his actions and said in an Instagram post that Pele’s teammates asked to take a photo with him, adding that he is “dismayed” by the criticism.

Fans are pictured with a banner as the casket of Brazilian soccer legend Pele is transported by the fire department, from his former club Santos' Vila Belmiro stadium

Read more:
FIFA to ask every country to name a stadium in honour of Pele
Fans in their thousands queue to see hero Pele’s coffin

Pele had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021. The medical centre where he had been treated said he died of multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer.

During his international career, he won three World Cups – in 1958, 1962 and 1970 – the only player to achieve this.

Nicknamed the “king of football”, Pele played for Santos from 1956 to 1974, scoring more than 1,000 goals.

He played almost his entire club career at Santos, a satellite city of Sao Paulo, where he grew up.

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