Pele funeral: Brazilians mourn as football legend laid to rest in stadium where he got his start, watch

The football great died on Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was the only player ever to win three World Cups, and he was 82.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, January 03, 2023, 10:36 AM IST
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Santos: Thousands of mourners, including high school students and supreme court justices, began filing past the body of Pelé on the century-old field where he made his hometown team one of Brazil's best.

The football great died on Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was the only player ever to win three World Cups, and he was 82.

Pelé's coffin, draped in the flags of Brazil and the Santos FC football club, was placed on the midfield area of Vila Belmiro, the stadium outside Sao Paulo that was his home for most of his career.

The storied 16,000-seat stadium was surrounded by mourners, and covered with Pelé-themed decorations. Fans coming out of the stadium said they'd waited three hours in line, standing under a blazing sun.

Forty-five years after Pelé played his last game, he's still a central part of Brazil's national story.

Geovana Sarmento, 17, came with her father, who was wearing a Brazil shirt with Pelé's name.

In the 1960s and 70s, Pelé was perhaps the world's most famous athlete. He met presidents and queens, and in Nigeria a civil war was put on hold to watch him play. Many Brazilians credit him with putting the country on the world stage.

Rows of shirts with Pelé's number 10 were placed behind one of the goals, waving in the city's summer winds. A section of the stands was filling up with bouquets of flowers placed by mourners and sent by clubs and star players - Neymar and Ronaldo among them - from around the world as loudspeakers played a song named "Eu sou Pelé" ("I am Pelé") that was recorded by the Brazilian himself.

The soccer star led Brazil to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and remains one of the team's all-time leading scorers with 77 goals. Neymar tied Pelé's record during this year's World Cup in Qatar.

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