Emotional crowds watched as Brazil soccer legend Pele's coffin was driven through the streets of Santos on Tuesday on a firetruck, after 230,000 mourners, including the country's new president, filed past his open casket to pay homage.
Young and old embraced as the funeral procession wound its way through the costal city's streets for hours, with some fans in tears and others cheering and chanting for a national hero who rose from barefoot poverty to become one of the greatest and best-known athletes in modern history.
Pele died last week at the age of 82 after battling colon cancer for a year.
His funeral procession left from the city's Vila Belmiro stadium, home of Santos Football Club, the team Pele played for from 1956 to 1974, scoring more than 1,000 goals. It departed after a 24-hour wake which saw fans queue for hours to pay their respects, even overnight, according to the club.
One of the most moving moments came when the procession halted outside the home of his 100-year-old mother. Crowds there applauded and chanted "Pele is our king," before holding a minute's silence.
Pele's sister Maria Lucia Nascimento, 78, watched in tears from a balcony and thanked the crowds in a brief TV interview.
Newly sworn-in President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived by helicopter at the stadium, where he stood for about 30 minutes next to Pele's casket, draped with a Brazilian flag, in the center of the soccer field.
Lula comforted Pele's family members and listened to a Catholic ceremony alongside First Lady Rosangela da Silva.
"It's an irreparable loss for Brazil," the president said. "Pele, in addition to being the best soccer player in the world, was a humble, simple man."
On the streets of Santos, the city of 430,000 where Pele lived for most of his life, some struggled to come to terms with his loss.
"I'm still trying to get my head around this. No matter how much we prepare, we are never ready for the farewell," said Pele fan Marcelo Caverna. "We are not just saying goodbye to our king, we are saying goodbye to a genius, a legend of the Brazilian people."
Celebrities and authorities including officials from countries such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Korea also paid their respects.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was one of the first to attend the memorial on Monday and said he would ask football associations around the world to name a stadium after Pele, the only man to win the World Cup three times as a player.
Some soccer stars attended the wake, including former Brazil midfielder Ze Roberto, who helped place Pele's coffin in the center of the field on Monday.
"Long live the king," read a giant banner inside the stadium.
Only two of the 67 living Brazilian world champions attended the service - 1994 World Cup winner Mauro Silva, who works for the Sao Paulo state FA, and 1970 champion Clodoaldo, who works for Santos, prompting criticism from some commentators in the country.
Pele will be buried in a private ceremony at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery in Santos.
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