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Final farewell for Pele, Brazil’s football ‘King’

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Santos: Brazilians bid a final farewell this week to football giant Pele, starting on Monday with a 24-hour public wake at the stadium of his long-time team, Santos.

The oceanside home of the team nicknamed “Peixe” — “fish” in Portuguese — is expecting a huge influx of fans looking to honour the “King” of football, who died aged 82 on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

Stadium doors will open at 10:00 am local time (1300 GMT). The coffin bearing the remains of the only player to have won three World Cups will be displayed in the centre of the field.

Known as Vila Belmiro after the neighbourhood where it is located, the black-and-white stadium has a capacity of 16,000 people.

In the stands, three giant flags could be seen on Sunday, one with an image of Pele displaying the famous number 10 on his jersey.

Another bore the message “Long live the king”; the third said simply, “Pele 82 years.”

Entry to the stadium will be allowed until 10:00 am Tuesday, officials said. After that, a procession will be held through the streets of Santos, a port city about 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the state capital Sao Paulo.

The parade will pass the house of Pele’s mother, 100-year-old Celeste Arantes, who is unaware that her world-famous son has died.

“She doesn’t know,” Pele’s sister Maria Lucia do Nascimento told ESPN on Friday. “She is not conscious.” — AFP

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