Fans in their thousands queue to see hero Pele’s coffin – ahead of its unusual final resting place | World News

Edson Arantes do Nascimento was not born here, and he did not die here.

But for 19 seasons, The skin Put the place on the map – so much so, the Brazilian government made it an official national treasure, so he couldn’t play anywhere else.

A king’s return to his beloved Santos was welcomed by flags, flames and fans chanting his name before the sun rose on a sweltering day in the city.

Football icon Pele, the only player to win three World Cups, Died on December 29 at the age of 82.. A Catholic mass will be celebrated in Santos this morning before his burial in a nearby cemetery.

Jackie Beltrau witnesses at Santos FC as fans line up to see the open casket of Brazilian footballer Pele.

Pele was taken to the pitch that made him a superstar, with banners adorning hoardings proclaiming “Viva O Re” (Long Live the King) at his home ground at Villa Belmiro and his famous number 10 shirts. A stand was hanging on each seat.

Making it to the center circle for the final time was a little less smooth than fans are used to seeing in their lifetimes, as impeccably positioned chairs were moved out of the way to make room for the pallbearers to lift the open casket onto the podium. Had to be removed.

Those closest to them said their goodbyes, and their son Edinho prayed at the gathering.

As the dignitaries began to arrive, they were led by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Speaking to reporters outside, he said: “We are going to ask. Every country in the world should name one of its football stadiums after PeleBecause a hundred years from now when kids are asking who Pele was, well, they need to remember him all over the world in a place where you score goals, where you feel the emotion in the stadium, the fit. In the ball field where children, boys and girls can play.

“And we have to make sure that happens.”

Jackie Beltrau witnesses at Santos FC as fans line up to see the open casket of Brazilian footballer Pele.

The first fans to file by his casket queued for hours overnight, eager not to miss their chance as the doors opened at 10am to commemorate an incredible life.

Saulo, from rural São Paulo, loses his phone but won’t let his spirits get low.

He told Sky News it was worth it: “When I saw him lying there I wished it hadn’t been him, but that’s the reality we’re dealing with today.

“There is no doubt that Man is the Yellow King. He will live on in our hearts and memories forever.”

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Pele’s open casket at the stadium in Brazil

Dressed in the famous colors of Brazil or the black and white colors of Santos, thousands of people from all over the world had the same idea of ​​performing Hajj.

A man who lives in New York, but grew up in St. Lucia, told us: “When I played football growing up, he was one of the first black people to be recognized as one of the greatest. was recognized – and wanted by everyone on the island. Be pale.”

We stopped an Englishman on holiday, who said: “It’s a terrible day for Brazil. I grew up with football. I love football and I feel proud to be here with everyone. Had to share.”

After the sun went down, we walked down the same path that many of his idols had come to walk and watched from everyone from Brazilian soccer royalty to state political parties and local philanthropists. There are large bouquets of flowers sent.

We saw his loved ones still grieving by his casket, which stood with a Brazilian honor guard. And we saw the great man himself, draped in a Brazilian flag and with an expression of silence – a world away from his mischievous smile so often seen around the world.

Jackie Beltrau witnesses at Santos FC as fans line up to see the open casket of Brazilian footballer Pele.

As the night wore on, queues still lined neighboring streets and the festive mood showed no signs of abating. People arrived with dogs, with family members and with friends of all ages.

Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will arrive this morning before Pele’s casket is paraded through the streets of Santos, 24 hours after he arrived.

His casket will also be carried to the home of his 100-year-old mother.

Pele’s final resting place will be a “vertical cemetery” – a towering block just 200 meters from the stadium, close enough to hear the roar of the crowd.

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