Pele laid to rest as Brazil bids final goodbye to football great

More than 230,000 supporters attended wake of football legend at Santos

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Thousands of football fans, political leaders and football dignitaries paid their final respects to Brazilian legend Pele on Tuesday.

Newly sworn-in President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was among those who attended the wake of Pele in the coastal city of Santos.

A 24-hour memorial service for Pele, who died last week at the age of 82 after battling colon cancer for a year, started on Monday with over 230,000 supporters reported to have bid the legend goodbye. Hundreds of thousands of supporters lined up the streets as Pele was taken to his final resting place.

Among those who attended the service was Fifa president Gianni Infantino. Infantino called Pele eternal and "a global icon of football" on Monday, saying football's governing body will ask all member countries to name a stadium in the player's honour.

Infantino released a statement on the day of Pele's death, saying: "For everyone who loves the beautiful game, this is the day we never wanted to come. The day we lost Pele."

He described Pele as an "exemplary sportsman" and added: "Pele had a magnetic presence and, when you were with him, the rest of the world stopped.

"His life is about more than football. He changed perceptions for the better in Brazil, in South America and across the world. His legacy is impossible to summarise in words."

President Lula arrived by helicopter on Tuesday morning and stood next to Pele's casket, draped with a Brazilian flag, at the Urbano Caldeira Stadium.

"Few Brazilians carried the name of our country as far as he did," Lula said last week after Pele's death.

World pays tribute to Brazilian football great Pele

A man draws an image of Brazilian soccer legend Pele with salt as a memorial while people mourn his death at the Pele soccer store in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U. S. ,  December 29, 2022.  REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz

Former Brazil midfielder Ze Roberto and Pele's son Edinho were among those who placed his coffin on the pitch during a ceremony before fans and well-wishers were allowed to pay their respects.

A procession carrying Pele's coffin passed through the streets of Santos, going through the neighbourhood where his 100-year-old mother Celeste lives, and concluded at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery.

Brazil's government had declared three days of national mourning after Pele's death last week.

Pele had been in fragile health, suffering from kidney problems and then colon cancer.

But he remained active on social media, cheering on Brazil from his hospital bed in Sao Paulo during the World Cup in Qatar and consoling the pre-tournament favourites when they were eliminated in the quarter-finals, three weeks before his death.

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

The football star led Brazil to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and remains the team’s all-time joint leading scorer with 77 goals. Neymar tied Pele’s record during last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Updated: January 03, 2023, 4:56 PM