The funeral of Brazil legend, Pele will be held today at the home of his former club, Santos, after the World Cup winner died at the age of 82, with president Jair Bolsonaro declaring three days of mourning after the news.
Pele, a world champion in 1958, 1962 and 1970, had been treated for colon cancer in recent years. He passed away on Thursday at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, and tributes have come flooding in from across the footballing world.
The forward played the bulk of his career with Santos in his homeland, scoring more than 600 times for the Brazilian side. It is there that fans will be able to pay their respects to Brazil’s all-time joint-top scorer.
“The body of the greatest football player of all time will be laid to rest at Estádio Urbano Caldeira, in Vila Belmiro, where he enchanted the world,” a statement from Santos read.
“The body will go straight from the Albert Einstein Hospital to the Stadium at dawn on Monday (today) and the coffin will be placed in the center of the lawn. The public wake is expected to begin at 10 am.”
The club shared details of how the public and press can pay their tributes, while also sharing information on a private burial, reserved for Pele’s family members. The ceremony is expected to continue until tomorrow morning, with a parade passing through the streets of Santos.
“Santos FC deeply regrets the death of the best football player of all time, the man who took the name of Alvinegro Praiano to the world, our greatest idol, who immortalised the number 10 shirt and turned it into a work of art,” the club had earlier announced on Thursday.
“Any tribute is small compared to the greatness of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, our eternal King Pelé.”
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Brazil—he died December 29, 2022, São Paolo, Brazil). The Brazilian football (soccer) player, in his time, probably the most famous and possibly the best-paid athlete in the world. He was part of the Brazilian national teams that won three World Cup championships (1958, 1962, and 1970).
After playing for a minor league club at Bauru, São Paulo state, Pelé (whose nickname apparently is without significance) was rejected by major club teams in the city of São Paulo.
In 1956, however, he joined the Santos Football Club, which, with Pelé at inside left forward, won nine São Paulo league championships and, in 1962 and 1963, both the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup. Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), he became a Brazilian national hero. He combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves.
After the 1958 World Cup, Pelé was declared a national treasure by the Brazilian government to ward off large offers from European clubs and ensure that he would remain in Brazil. On November 19, 1969, in his 909th first-class match, he scored his 1,000th goal.
Pelé made his international debut in 1957 at age 16 and the following year played his first game in the World Cup finals in Sweden. The Brazilian manager was initially hesitant to play his young star. When Pelé finally reached the field, he had an immediate impact, rattling the post with one shot and collecting an assist.
He had a hat trick in the semifinal against France and two goals in the championship game, where Brazil defeated Sweden 5–2. At the 1962 World Cup finals, Pelé tore a thigh muscle in the second match and had to sit out the remainder of the tournament.
Nonetheless, Brazil went on to claim its second World Cup title. Rough play and injuries turned the 1966 World Cup into a disaster for both Brazil and Pelé, as the team went out in the first round, and he contemplated retiring from World Cup play.
Returning in 1970 for one more World Cup tournament, he teamed with young stars Jairzinho and Rivelino to claim Brazil’s third title and permanent ownership of the Jules Rimet Trophy. Pelé finished his World Cup career having scored 12 goals in 14 games.