Pelé is dead: three days of mourning in Brazil, planetary tribute

Brazil was in mourning on Friday for its football legend King Pelé, whose death the day before in Sao Paulo at the age of 82 sparked an influx of tributes from around the world before his funeral on Tuesday in the city of Santos.

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Despite the shock of his disappearance for many Brazilians, central Sao Paulo was calm on Friday morning, with many Paulistas having left the country’s largest metropolis for the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

80 km away, the surroundings of the Santos FC stadium, the club where the eternal number 10 shone from 1956 to 1974, were also still little frequented before the tributes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, noted AFP journalists. .

Near the Vila Belmiro stadium, where Pelé’s coffin will be displayed on Monday for a 24-hour funeral vigil, Caroline Fornari, a housewife, pays tribute to the man who made Brazilians « the pride ».

« Since I was very young, I heard my father, who was his age, talking about him, » she told AFP, « it’s very sad. »

Pelé, the only player in history to have won three editions of the World Cup (1958, 1962, 1970), had been battling colon cancer for more than a year. He had been hospitalized at the end of November in the middle of the World Cup in Qatar, which he had still been able to follow in part.

« We love you to infinity, rest in peace »: it is with these words, published on Instagram, that one of his daughters, Kely Nascimento, announced the death of the Brazilian, surrounded by several members of his family at Albert Einstein Hospital.

A few hours later, a decree from the presidency announced a three-day national mourning, “a mark of respect” after the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, says Pelé.

The funeral of Pelé will take place Tuesday in the intimacy of the family, after a procession following the coffin in the streets of Santos, which decreed a mourning of seven days.

In Rio de Janeiro, the Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado, an emblematic monument which dominates the bay, was illuminated on Thursday evening, as was the legendary Maracana stadium, after the announcement of the disappearance of the legend of the round ball.

« Immortal King »

“Mourning” for the “immortal king of football”, headlined the Brazilian daily O Globo on his site, with images of the player in the national jersey, in particular the iconic one, where all smiles, he raises his right arm, worn by his teammate Jairzinho seen from the back with his number 7.

The football world has unanimously hailed Pelé on social media. « He made football an art, » wrote Neymar, his distant successor under the Brazilian team’s N.10 and who equaled his national record of 77 goals for the « Seleçao » in Qatar.

Tributes also from current superstars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé: « Rest in peace, Pelé », wished the Argentinian, while the French noted that the « legacy » of the one who notably revolutionized football with his emblematic « jogo bonito (beautiful game) would be “never forgotten”.

The political world has made a chorus, or team, to the top of the state. In Brazil, of course: « Never has there been a number 10 like him, » responded President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will be sworn in on Sunday.

Elsewhere, American Joe Biden hailed “Pelé’s rise from humble beginnings to footballing legend”, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “The Game. The King. Eternity”.

Pelé, voted Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999, was an outstanding athlete. There is his record of goals -1,281 in 1,363 matches in the jerseys of Santos, Seleçao and New York Cosmos (1975-77), a record approved by the International Federation (FIFA).

peanut seller

Born on October 23, 1940 into a poor family in Tres Coraçoes, a small town in Minas Gerais (southeast) surrounded by coffee plantations, little Edson had to sell peanuts in the street to help his parents.

But at 17, he dazzled the 1958 World Cup in Sweden with his goals and his class. In tears, he is carried in triumph by his teammates. He was again titled in 1962, even if his tournament was cut short by an injury – another also shortened his participation in the 1966 edition. The 1970 World Cup, the first broadcast in color on television, marked his apotheosis.

His notoriety will also push him towards other fields – cinema, song and even politics – in parallel with an eventful personal trajectory – three marriages, seven children (recognized) and a life as a telenovela.


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