Pelé’s Last Goodbye: Brazil Bids Emotional Farewell with Wake and Funeral Procession

Final farewell to Pelé (Photo: Pelé's funeral/Alamy)

Brazilians have commenced a heartfelt farewell to football icon Pelé with a 24-hour public wake at the Santos FC stadium, where he dazzled fans throughout his career. The public memorial began on Monday morning, offering an opportunity for admirers to pay their respects.

On Tuesday, Pelé’s funeral procession will move through Santos, pausing by the home of his 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, before reaching Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica cemetery for a private family service.

Farewell to Pelé (Photo: Pelé’s funeral/Getty Images)

Fireworks marked the departure of Pelé’s coffin from Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo, where he passed away due to complications from colon cancer.

The hearse, flanked by police, made its way to the stadium where the coffin was placed on the field. Fans lined the streets early, holding banners with messages like “Pelé, you are eternal.”

Inside the 16,000-seat stadium, large banners read “Long live The King.” Pelé’s son, Edson Nascimento, shared Instagram posts documenting the journey, including a touching image of his hand on the coffin captioned, “We are home.”

The wake drew remarkable figures, including former players Romário and Neymar Jr., and representatives from clubs such as Real Madrid and São Paulo FC. Pelé’s widow, Marcia Aoki, was seen embracing Edson Nascimento.

Thousands of fans, many in Brazil’s yellow jerseys or Santos FC shirts, gathered to mourn. The scene was emotional, with many shedding tears. The entrance was decorated with flowers, and the Santos FC flag was at half-mast. Pelé’s song “Meu Legado” (“My Legacy”) played continuously inside the stadium.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, one of the first to arrive, announced plans for global tributes, including a minute of silence before matches and the renaming of stadiums in Pelé’s honor. “Pelé is eternal,” Infantino remarked.

Known as Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, winning three World Cups—an unmatched record.

His influence transcended football, making him a global icon. Brazil observed three days of national mourning, with tributes from around the world celebrating his extraordinary legacy.