Brazil begins three days of mourning after death of Pele

World

Brazil has entered three days of mourning following the death of football superstar Pele.

The 82-year-old – the only man to win the World Cup three times as a player – died on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

A 24-hour wake will be held on Monday in the centre of the field at the stadium of Santos, Pele’s hometown club and where he started playing as a teenager.

On Tuesday, there will be a parade carrying his coffin through the neighbourhood where his 100-year-old mother lives, followed by a private burial.

Footballers, world leaders and entertainers are among those who shared tributes to Pele.

Neymar, the Brazil forward who moved level with Pele’s record of 77 international goals during the last World Cup, said: “Before Pele football was just a sport. Pele has changed it all.”

In an emotional tribute on Instagram, Neymar added: “He turned football into art, into entertainment He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: He gave visibility to Brazil.

More on Pele

“Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone but his magic remains. Pele is FOREVER!!”

Former US president Bill Clinton said Pele was “not only a football legend but also a humanitarian and global icon.

“He used his platform to empower disenfranchised children and inspire generations around the world.”

French president Emmanuel Macron said Pele’s legacy would live forever, writing on Twitter: “The game. The king. Eternity.”

Read more:
Pele embodied the idea of football as the beautiful game
In pictures: The world’s greatest footballer

Santos supporters and Pele fans in front of the Vila Belmiro stadium, where he began his football career at the age of 15, playing for the home team. Pic: AP
Image:
Fans gathered in front of the Vila Belmiro stadium, where Pele began his football career. Pic: AP
A person stands in front of an image depicting Brazilian soccer legend Pele as people gather to mourn his death, in Santos, Brazil, December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

The government of Jair Bolsonaro, who finishes his term as Brazil’s president on Sunday, said that Pele was “a great citizen and patriot, raising the name of Brazil wherever he went”.

Mr Bolsonaro’s successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, wrote on Twitter that “few Brazilians carried the name of our country as far as he did”.

German footballing great Franz Beckenbauer said on Twitter: “Football lost the greatest in its history today – and I lost a unique friend.

“Football will be yours forever. Rest in peace Pele.”

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Pele leaves ‘a void’, says FIFA chief

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo said on Instagram: “Unique. Cool. Technical. Creative. Perfect. One of a kind.

“Where Pele arrived, he stayed. Without ever leaving the top, he leaves us today. The king of football – only one The greatest of all time.

“The world of mourning. The sadness of parting mixed with the immense pride of the written history.

“What a privilege to come after you my friend. Your talent is a school every player should go through.

“Your legacy will transcend generations. And that’s how it will stay alive. Today and always, we celebrate you.”

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‘Pele was Elvis, he was Neil Armstrong’

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “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.

“Today, we all mourn the loss of the physical presence of our dear Pele, but he achieved immortality a long time ago and therefore he will be with us for eternity.”

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‘Pele was more than a footballer’

Gary Lineker tweeted: “The most divine of footballers and joyous of men.

“He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to.”

England World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst said: “For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”

Brazil’s famous Christ The Redeemer statue and the arches at Wembley Stadium in London were lit up in Brazilian colours to commemorate Pele’s life.

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