‘It’s going to be crazy’: Crowds flock to Santos for Pelé’s wake

© Romain Houeix, France 24

Aside from the extraordinary international career that brought him his greatest fame, Pelé was well known for his loyalty to his club Santos, based in the eponymous port city south of Sao Paulo where he spent most of his life. Fans gathered to pay tribute to the king of football ahead of a memorial ceremony that began at the club’s stadium on Monday. FRANCE 24 reports.

Under the sweltering sun of a Brazilian summer, Santos residents and visitors to the city were flocking in two directions on Sunday. Many headed south to the city’s renowned beach. Many others headed north, wearing Brazil or Santos FC football shirts, to pay tribute to Pelé.

The final preparations were under way for the huge memorial ceremony for Pelé at the Vila Belmiro stadium, after his remains have been transferred from the Albert-Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. Santos FC employees were busy setting up miles of fencing to accommodate the vast crowds who would come to pay their last respects to their hero. Further along, groups of supporters were spreading out tarpaulin in the 16,000-seater stadium.

“It’s going to be crazy,” one local journalist said. “There’s never going to be enough room for everyone.”

Some people made just a brief visit to the stadium to take a quick selfie amid preparations for the grand event. But many lingered and were keen to talk about the importance of Pelé in their lives and the life of their country.

‘Feeling of unity’

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Brazilians bid farewell to football legend Pelé
The World Cups that made Pelé 'immortal'
'Football in four letters': Global media pays lavish tribute to 'King' Pelé