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Pelé’s mausoleum in Brazil opens to public as fans pay homage

The coffin of late Brazilian football star Pele, in his mausoleum at the Ecumenical Necropolis Memorial cemetery  (AFP via Getty Images)
The coffin of late Brazilian football star Pele, in his mausoleum at the Ecumenical Necropolis Memorial cemetery (AFP via Getty Images)

A mausoleum built for the golden casket of Brazil football legend Pelé has been opened to the public.

It is in the Brazilian coastal city of Santos and is a shrine to the former player who died aged 82 last year.

Regarded by many as the greatest football player of all time the player dubbed, ‘O Rei’ (the king) was laid to rest overlooking the Vila Belmiro stadium where he played for 18 years.

His final resting ground is covered in artificial grass, surrounded by images of fans on the stands of a stadium, and the endless sounds of cheering is heard playing from speakers.

His casket bears his birth name Edson Arantes Do Nascimento and his birth and death dates.

One of Pelé’s sons, Edson Cholbi Nascimento, known as Edinho, said: “The creation was inspired by love and by him. We have all this stadium context, with people all around, we have this entrance as people were arriving in the field, what he did endless times.”

The mausoleum was designed by the owner of the cemetery where it lies, Pepe Alstut, a close friend of Pelé’s.

Alstut died in 2018 and initially hoped the mausoleum would be on one of the top floors of the building. But instead, Pelé’s familly buried him on the second floor so fans could have better access to his final resting place.

Fans wanting to attend must register on the cemetery’s website to visit between Mondays and Fridays.

Former footballer Roberto Milano, who was at the opening, said: “He was part of my life day to day... We grow old trying to follow role models, and he was perhaps the biggest of these role models.”

The three-time World Cup champion died of colon cancer on 29 December 2022 at age 82.

“I am shaking. The energy of this place is surreal,” said Erica Nascimento, a tearful 42-year-old economist.

Fans wanting to attend must book a time on the Memorial cemetery website.

Pelé led Brazil to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He is the only player to win it three times. Last month, a Brazilian dictionary added “Pelé” as an adjective to use when describing someone who is “exceptional, incomparable, unique.”

The announcement by the Michaelis dictionary was part of a campaign that gathered more than 125,000 signatures to honour the late player’s impact on the football world and beyond.