Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has joined tens of thousands of mourners paying tributes to Pelé in the coastal city of Santos before the former footballer’s burial there on Tuesday afternoon, Guardian reports.
Pelé, who died last week age 82, scored most of his 1,283 goals for Santos football club and it is there that he will be laid to rest after a funeral cortege from the stadium, Vila Belmiro, where his 24-hour wake has been held.
Lula joined mourners on the pitch of the 16,000-capacity ground on Tuesday morning after flying into Santos from the capital, Brasília, where he was sworn in for a historic third term as president on Sunday afternoon.
The football-loving leftist, who grew up watching Pelé play, comforted the footballer’s relatives and friends under a white marquee where his coffin had been draped with the yellow and green flag of Brazil and Santos’s white flag.
‘Farewell to the king. Rest in peace, Pelé,’ Lula wrote on Twitter alongside a photograph showing him paying his final respects.
Brazilian television channels suspended their normal programming to broadcast the procession, as happened in Argentina after the death of its football legend Diego Maradona in 2020.
Thousands of locals of all ages poured on to the streets of Santos to shout their hero’s name as his coffin passed by.