During the day, the number of followers barely exceeded ten, a figure perhaps affected by the end-of-year festivities, the distance from the hospital or the absence of “O Rei” from the imaginary after years out of the spotlight.

The Albert Einstein Medical Center, in Sao Paulo, has been the focus of world press attention since a few days ago the deteriorating health of the famous former soccer star, Pelé, was reported.

But the confirmation of his death, at the age of 82, as a “consequence of the failure of multiple organs, the result of the progression of colon cancer,” according to the hospital, also attracted a procession of his most faithful fans. .

“I wasn’t born when he played, but he was the first name I knew,” said 12-year-old Luis Eduardo excitedly.

Upon learning of the death through social networks, he ran with his father, Antonio Perera, at the gates of the hospital, cordoned off and heavily guarded for days by private security.

Antonio had recently been at the health center with Luis Eduardo because another son had undergone surgery there and they had hopes of seeing the Brazilian star, the only three-time world soccer champion.

“He is the best player of all time,” says Antonio, a 46-year-old businessman.

“I always wanted to be near him and take a picture,” he admits.

Eduardo de Carvalho also frequented the hospital, but to pray inside, in the chapel, still with “hope” that the soccer idol’s picture would be reversed, owner of the tremendous mark of 1,281 goals in 1,363 games in a 21-year career .

During the day, the number of followers barely exceeded ten, a figure perhaps affected by the end-of-year holidays, the remoteness of the hospital or the absence of Pelé from the imaginary after years out of the spotlight, de Carvalho speculates.

“I’m a bit shocked, sad, emotionally beaten,” says this 55-year-old cybersecurity consultant.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé, passed away this Thursday afternoon surrounded by his relatives, one month after being hospitalized.

The entrance to the health center, covered by a huge glass dome, became even more crowded with cameras and journalists after the announcement of the death of “O Rei”, and continued to receive patients and visitors.

Outside the hospital, fans hung a banner reading “Eternal King Pele.”

For José Carlos Souza, 43, “Pelé represents the passion for football.”

“For me, the ‘King’ never died,” says Thiago Lopes, a 30-year-old audiovisual producer, wrapped in the Santos flag, the club where Pelé played between 1956 and 1974, almost his entire career.

Upon hearing the news, Alipio Bedaque hurried to get to the clinic, but not before dressing in a special garment: a replica of the black and white striped Santos jersey from 1956, the year Pelé made his debut.

“Pelé and Santos really made me passionate about soccer,” Bedaque says, his face stricken.

This 66-year-old consultant vividly remembers the times he saw his idol on the field of Santos, a city some 80 km from Sao Paulo, where he will be held in public from Monday to Tuesday.

“You didn’t see the other players, you just looked at Pelé and what he would do,” he says.

But Bedaque believes that the legacy of “O Re”‘, who was a singer, actor and extraordinary Minister of Sports of Brazil, will go beyond the courts.

“Their death of him is not restricted to the death of a famous player,” he continues.

“The last 40 years he became, he was a great world icon beyond sports,” he added.

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