- Shamser Khalid
Brazilians Flock the Hospital to Pay Their Respect to Pele
The moment news got out that football legend Pele had passed away, a flood of fans descended on the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo. The news was confirmed on Thursday by Pele’s family and doctors and since then, there have been several comments and tributes from fans and footballers.
At the time of the announcement, it was reported that businessman Antonio Pereira had run 1.5 kilometers to the hospital. In one interview, he said, “He’s our greatest idol, the greatest footballer of all time.” His 12-year-old son, Luis Eduardo, who had run with him to the hospital, and wearing a jersey, commented, “The first name I ever heard about in football was Pele, the greatest player of all time.”
Another fan that rushed to the hospital upon hearing the news was Alipio Bedaque, a 66-year-old consultant. He had put on his prized Santos 1956 replica jersey, the year of Pele’s debut, and had plenty to say about the former player.
“You didn’t even see the other players. You just fixated on Pele and what he would do,” Bedaque said when talking about the time he watched Pele play in Santos, a city 75 kilometers from Sao Paulo.
As for other fans that had flooded the hospital, they were crying and waving Santos flags with a hung banner reading, “Eternal King Pele.”
“We came to say goodbye, to pay a small tribute to him, as I think everyone should do,” said Jose Carlos Souza Santos, 43.
“Pele represents our passion for football. Everyone who ever wanted to play football has been inspired by him.”
Meanwhile, fans had also flocked to leave flowers outside the stadium of the club where Pele spent most of his career. There were overall, several tributes being made in honour of Pele.
This included the city of his former club Santos, declaring seven days of mourning, and Brazil declaring three days of national mourning.
Other tributes to the football hero include Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue being lit up in yellow and green, and the famed Maracana stadium will be illuminated in gold in homage to “the greatest of all time.”
Aside from tributes, reports say that journalists from around the world had travelled to Sao Paulo, Santos, and Pele’s south-eastern hometown, Tres Coracoes. Brazilian TV was running wall-to-wall coverage of his death and the national outpouring of emotion and showing dazzling archival footage from his playing days.
Pele was a legend with one of the most established careers in football. He has scored more than a thousand goals in his career and won the World Cup three times. Pele is the only player in history to achieve this and was the one to put Brazil on the world map as the “land of the beautiful game” according to President Jair Bolsonaro.
A few weeks ago, it seemed like Pele was doing well in the hospital. However, constant updates on his health status sadly showed that his condition did not get better.
As a legend in the football world, many will mourn his passing.