Earlier this week, approximately 230,000 mourners in Santos, Brazil, paid their respects to fútbol legend Pelé, who died last week of cancer at the age of 82.
A funeral ceremony was held on Monday (January 2) at Estádio Urbano Caldeira, also known as Vila Belmiro, where Pelé’s casket was covered in the flags of his home country of Brazil and of his fútbol team, Santos FC. Vila Belmiro is where Santos FC plays its matches.
According to the Associated Press, fans waited in line for up to three hours to get into the stadium to walk past his coffin. Santos FC reports there were about 1,100 media members from 23 countries at the ceremony.
On Tuesday (January 3), a Catholic Mass was held at the stadium before Pelé was buried at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery in Santos. According to the Guinness World Records, Ecumenical Memorial is the world’s tallest vertical cemetery at 32 stories high and about 16,000 graves.
Brazil’s new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva attended the funeral on Tuesday. “Farewell to the king,” da Silva tweeted. “Rest in peace, Pelé.”
One of the thousands of funeral attendees was 17-year-old Geovana Sarmento, who went to the funeral with her father and wore a Brazil shirt with Pelé’s name on it.
“I am not a Santos fan, neither is my father,” Sarmento told the AP. “But this guy invented Brazil’s national team. He made Santos stronger. He made it big. How could you not respect him? He is one of the greatest people ever. We needed to honor him.”
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé was regarded as one of the greatest fútbol players of all time. He was the only player in fútbol history to win the FIFA World Cup three times.