The wake for late Brazilian football legend Pele will be held on Monday and his funeral on Tuesday in Santos, the southeastern city where he played most of his career, his former club said after his death. Pele, a three-time World Cup winner who is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, died on Thursday at the age of 82 — triggering a wave of tributes from the sports world and beyond. His death after a long battle with cancer was caused by “multiple organ failure,” the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo said in a statement, confirming the news from the legend’s family.
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“The wake for the greatest footballer of all time will be held in Urbano Caldeira Stadium, better known as the Vila Belmiro, where he enchanted the world,” Santos football club said Thursday in a statement, adding that Pele would then get a funeral procession through the city’s streets before a private burial ceremony.
Pele reached the pinnacle of his greatness at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the first broadcast in color, where he starred on what many consider the greatest team of all time, with talents such as Rivellino, Tostao and Jairzinho.
He was often welcomed like royalty when traveling abroad with Santos or the national team. Legend has it that in 1969, his arrival in Nigeria prompted a 48-hour truce in the bloody Biafra war.
Pele declined offers to play in Europe, but signed for a brief, lucrative swansong with the New York Cosmos at the end of his career, bringing his star power to the land of “soccer.”
His influence extended beyond the pitch, with gigs as a movie star, singer and sports minister (1995-1998) — he was one of the first black cabinet members in Brazil.
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But he faced criticism at times in Brazil for remaining quiet on social issues and racism, and for what some saw as his haughty, vain personality.
Unlike Argentine rebel Diego Maradona, one of his rivals for the title of greatest of all time, Pele was seen as close to those in power — including Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime.