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Pele’s funeral: Thousands line streets of Santos as Brazil football legend is laid to rest

Thousands of mourners lined the streets as Brazilian football icon Pele was laid to rest in Santos, the city of his former club.

Pele had been lying in state for 24 hours in the centre of the pitch at the club’s Urbano Caldeira stadium for the public to pay their respects.

People crowded the streets on Tuesday as his coffin was carried on a fire truck to a private family funeral.

Pele – a three-time World Cup winner – died at the age of 82 on 29 December.

Arguably the world’s greatest ever footballer, he had been receiving treatment for colon cancer since 2021.

Brazil’s government declared three days of national mourning after his death, and the country’s new president – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – travelled to Santos to pay his respects.

Covered with a Brazilian flag, Pele’s coffin was carried on a fire truck through the packed roads of fans.

The procession also passed by the house where his 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, still lives.

Santos FC said more than 230,000 people had attended his 24-hour wake in the Vila Belmiro stadium, where a steady stream of mourners continued through the night.

The funeral cortege ended at the port city’s Memorial Cemetery, where a Catholic funeral service was held before Pele is interred in a 10-storey mausoleum that holds the Guinness World Record as the tallest cemetery on earth.

‘He joined all of us’ – fans pay tribute

BBC South America correspondent Katy Watson in Santos

Pele’s coffin was paraded through Santos on a fire truck – as is the Brazilian tradition – while fans accompanied the cortege chanting “Pele, 1,000 goals”.

Hundreds of people waved huge banners and were wearing the number 10 shirt he made so famous.

This was a day of mourning for the man Brazilians call their King, but it was clearly a moment to celebrate him too.

There was joy and happiness on the streets that Pele was – and will always be – Brazil’s biggest source of pride.

Deofilo de Freitas was first in the queue at the stadium on Monday, but wanted another chance to see his idol before he was laid to rest.

Pele fan Deofilo de Freitas wearing a Brazilian shirt
Deofilo de Freitas queued on Monday to see Pele, and saw the procession on Tuesday to say his final goodbye

“Pele was the Pele of the people, he joined all of us,” he said. “It’ll be hard to find someone else like him.

“In addition to being the best player in the world, he was a marvellous human being.”

Santos FC, where Pele spent the majority of his club career, tweeted: “Our eternal King Pele says goodbye in Vila Belmiro, his home, with his people.”

Pele's coffin is escorted on a fire truck through Santos where fans are lining the streets
The coffin was escorted through heaving Santos streets on a fire truck
Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves to the crowd during Pele's memorial
Brazil’s new president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attended Monday’s memorial
An emotional Pele fan cries as his body is carried through the streets of Santos
Emotional fans paid their respects to Pele throughout the procession
Shirts with Pele's face and number 10 are hung up in the Santos FC stadium
The city of Santos said goodbye to its hero Pele, who played 656 competitive matches for the club
Fifa President Gianni Infantino with Pele's son Edinho
Fifa president Gianni Infantino attended the memorial on Monday

Mourners stand in line outside Vila Belmiro stadium as they wait to pay their respects to Pele
Thousands of mourners from all around the world gathered in Santos
Two life-sized bronze statues stand at the entrance to Pele's tomb on Tuesday following a private ceremony at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery in Santos
Two life-sized bronze statues stood at the entrance to Pele’s tomb on Tuesday following a private ceremony at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery in Santos

Credit: BBC Sport

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