(CNN) – Brazilians have started to pay their last respects to great football pele with a 24-hour public vigil that began Monday at Urbano Caldeira Stadium, home of his former football club Santos.
The wake is open to the public and mourners began entering the stadium on Monday morning.
A funeral procession is to take place on Tuesday Peles Coffin through the streets of the city of Santos, including the street where Pelé’s 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, lives.
The procession continues Peles final resting place, the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica Cemetery, where a private funeral for family members will take place.
Fireworks greeted the hearse carrying Pelé’s coffin as he exited the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo, where the three-time world champion died on Thursday of multiple organ failure resulting from the progression of colon cancer.
The hearse was under heavy police escort on its way to the stadium where his coffin will be placed in the center of the field.
Fans had already started lining the streets in the early hours of Monday morning, many holding flags or banners with messages ‘Oh Rei’ (“The king”). “Pelé, you are eternal,” read one on the side of the road.
In the 16,000-seat Santos stadium, a number of large banners had been put up in the stands with one reading ‘Long Live the King’.
Pelé’s son Edson Nascimento posted a series of stories about the trip to Santos on Instagram.
“Bring our king home,” read one that showed the convoy on the Autobahn. Another waved his hand over the coffin with the caption, “We’re home.”
Famous Brazilians, including players like Romário and Neymar Jr., as well as club officials from Real Madrid and São Paulo FC were also present.
According to CNN Brasil, Pelé’s widow Marcia Aoki attended the wake and was seen hugging Edson Nascimento.
People of all ages flocked to the stadium as the gates opened for the memorial, and many people wore the iconic yellow jersey of the Brazilian football team and Santos FC jerseys.
It was a somber occasion and many fans were overcome with emotion, tears streaming down their faces as they made their way to the ground. The public entrance to the stadium was decorated with bouquets of flowers and the Santos FC flag was flown at half-mast.
The song Meu Legado (“My Legacy”) sung by Pele was repeated in the stadium from the moment his coffin entered, while fans sang along to the words.
Among the first to arrive to pay their respects was FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“Pele is eternal,” Infantino told reporters, per Reuters. “FIFA will certainly honor the ‘King’ as he deserves.
“We have asked all the world’s football governing bodies to observe a minute’s silence before every game and will also ask them, 211 countries, to name a stadium after Pele. Future generations need to know and remember who Pele was.”
The name Pelé has been associated with football for more than 60 years. He has competed in four World Cups and is the only player in history to have won three, but his legacy extends far beyond his trophies and notable goalscoring.
“I was born to play football just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pelé famously said.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history and Brazil held a three-day national mourning after his death.
Sports stars, politicians and musicians from around the world paid tribute to a man who went beyond his sport to become a global icon.
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