Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Santos’ Vila Belmiro to honor the former superstar
Brazil was in mourning on Tuesday as legendary soccer player Pelé was laid to rest after his death last week at age 82. Arguably the greatest of all time, he made his name with Santos FC and won three FIFA World Cups for his country and over 200,000 mourners paid tribute to him before his burial.
Recently reelected president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva paid his respects at Vila Belmiro as part of a 24-hour wake ahead of Pele’s burial. The likes of FIFA president Gianni Infantino have also visited Brazil to bid farewell to one of the most important soccer figures of all time.
A funeral cortege took place from the stadium where his coffin had been placed with one stand draped in a banner reading “Long live the King” in reference to Pele’s nickname as a player.
Lula flew in on Tuesday morning having been sworn in for his third term as president in the capital city of Brasilia and wrote “Farewell to the king,” via Twitter. “Rest in peace, Pelé.”
The queue to enter Vila Belmiro stretched out of the stadium on Tuesday morning with many waiting hours for a final glimpse of the legend.
Pele’s body was finally escorted on a fire engine surrounded by police to the beachfront towards the home of his mother Celeste Arantes before a private burial at a local cemetery.
Brazilian television was also suspended in order to broadcast only the procession which is similar to Argentina’s media treatment of Diego Maradona’s passing.
Thousands lined the streets of Santos to cheer and sing Pele’s name as his coffin drove by on its way to his final resting stop.