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Large crowds bid Pele closing farewell in Brazil

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Brazilian soccer legend Pele is being buried Tuesday, along with his nation of greater than 200 million individuals and the world watching.

Newly inaugurated President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva paid his respects at Vila Belmiro, the stadium the place Pele performed for many of his profession.

Pele is being buried within the metropolis the place he grew up, turned well-known, and helped make into a world capital of his sport.

Mass is being celebrated on the Vila Belmiro stadium earlier than the casket is ushered via the streets of Santos to a close-by cemetery.

Geovana Sarmento, 17, waited within the three-hour line to view his physique because it lay in repose. She got here along with her father, who was sporting a Brazil shirt with Pele’s title.

“I’m not a Santos fan, neither is my father. However this man invented Brazil’s nationwide workforce. He made Santos stronger, he made it huge, how might you not respect him? He is among the best individuals ever, we would have liked to honor him,” she mentioned.

Caio Zalke, 35, an engineer, wore a Brazil shirt as he waited in line. “Pele is crucial Brazilian of all time. He made the game essential for Brazil and he made Brazil essential for the world,” he mentioned.

Within the Sixties and 70s, Pele was maybe the world’s most well-known athlete.

He met presidents and queens, and in Nigeria a civil struggle was placed on maintain to observe him play.

Many Brazilians credit score him with placing the nation on the world stage for the primary time.

Rows of shirts with Pele’s No. 10 have been positioned behind one of many objectives, waving within the metropolis’s summer time winds. A piece of the stands was filling up with bouquets of flowers positioned by mourners and despatched by golf equipment and star gamers — Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo amongst them — from all over the world as loudspeakers performed a tune named Eu sou Pele (”I’m Pele”) that was recorded by Pele himself.

The group was largely native, though some got here from distant. Many mourners have been too younger ever to have seen Pele play.

The temper was gentle, as individuals filtered out of the stadium to native bars, sporting Santos FC and Brazil shirts.

Claudio Carranca, 32, a salesman, mentioned: “I by no means noticed him play, however loving Pele is a convention that goes from father to son in Santos. I realized his historical past, noticed his objectives, and I see how Santos FC is essential as a result of he’s essential. I do know some Santos followers have youngsters supporting different groups. However that is simply because they by no means noticed Pele in motion. If they’d, they might really feel this gratitude I really feel now.”

Amongst these on the stadium was Pele’s finest buddy Manoel Maria, additionally a former Santos participant.

“If I had all of the wealth on this planet I’d by no means be capable to repay what this man did for me and my household,” Maria mentioned. “He was as nice a person as he was as a participant; the most effective of all time. His legacy will outlive us all. And that may be seen on this lengthy line with individuals of all ages right here.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino instructed journalists that each nation ought to title a stadium after Pele.

“I’m right here with plenty of emotion, unhappiness, but in addition with a smile as a result of he gave us so many smiles,” Infantino mentioned. “As FIFA, we can pay a tribute to the ‘King’ and we ask the entire world to look at a minute of silence.”

One other fan and buddy in line was Brazilian Supreme Court docket Justice Gilmar Mendes.

“It’s a very unhappy second, however we at the moment are seeing the true which means of this legendary participant to our nation,” Mendes instructed journalists. “My workplace has shirts signed by Pele, an image of him as a goalkeeper, additionally signed by him. DVDs, images, a giant assortment of him.”

Pele had undergone remedy for colon most cancers since 2021.

The medical centre the place he had been hospitalised mentioned he died of a number of organ failure on account of the most cancers.

Pele led Brazil to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and stays one of many workforce’s all-time main scorers with 77 objectives.

Neymar tied Pele’s report throughout this yr’s World Cup in Qatar.

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