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Pele's 100-year-old mother, 'Dona Celeste'

A replica of the house where late Brazilian football legend Pele was born in the southeastern city of Tres Coracoes. ©AFP

Santos (Brazil) (AFP) - The funeral procession Tuesday for Brazilian football legend Pele, who died last week at age 82, passed by the house where his 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, still lives.

"Dona Celeste," as she is known in Brazil, celebrated her 100th birthday on November 20 -- the day the 2022 World Cup kicked off in Qatar.

She was 17 when she gave birth to her first child on October 23, 1940, a baby who would grow up to be the man widely considered the greatest footballer of all time.

Family members say she has cognitive difficulties and is unaware her world-famous son has died.

"She's doing well, but she's in her own little world," her daughter, Maria Lucia, who lives with her in the southeastern city of Santos, told ESPN on Friday.

'Thank you, Mom'

Arantes, who married Pele's father, Joao Ramos do Nascimento, at the age of 16, also had another son, Jair, who died in 2020 of cancer, the same illness that claimed Pele's life Thursday.

A stay-at-home mother, she dedicated her life to caring for her children.

"From a young age, she taught me the value of love and peace," Pele wrote on Instagram on her 100th birthday, along with three pictures of them together at different stages in life.

"I have well over 100 reasons to be thankful for being her son.I share these photos with you, with great emotion to celebrate this day.Thank you for every day by your side, Mom."

Nine days later, Pele was admitted to hospital in Sao Paulo, where he died.

World Cup gift

Pele's father, a former footballer nicknamed "Dondinho," died in 1996.

Pele often told the story of promising to win the World Cup for Brazil after seeing his father cry when the "Selecao" lost the 1950 tournament final on home soil to Uruguay.

Eight years later, he succeeded, leading Brazil to the first of its five World Cup titles.

He himself won three of them -- 1958, 1962 and 1970 -- the only player in history to achieve the feat.

Despite his glittering career and long list of accolades, Pele said his parents always taught him the virtue of modesty.

"I never thought I was the best or more than anyone else.That's how I was raised," he said in a 2021 Netflix documentary on his life.

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