The lights had been switched off, but the stands at the Morumbi stadium were glowing in the night-time. A sea of almost 60,000 mobile phones and flares illuminated the Sao Paulo footballing cathedral, where the fans had congregated en masse for a special occasion.
The loudspeakers were blaring and a triumphal arch had been erected bearing the hashtag #Prasempre M1TO (Farewell M1TO, a nickname combining the Portuguese word for 'legend' and the goalkeeper's traditional shirt number). All this made for a goosebumps-inducing atmosphere as the O Tricolor supporters and football itself bid goodbye to Rogerio Ceni, the highest-scoring keeper ever and one of the biggest icons in the club's history.
Stepping out on to the pitch, Ceni dislodged the lumps that had formed in the throats of all present and a roar swept across the stadium. The shot-stopper, a winner of 22 trophies with Sao Paulo and the club's tenth leading marksman with 131 goals in 1,237 appearances, strode over to greet his former team-mates.
Not those he played alongside in 2015, but rather the champions from the 1992, 1993 and 2005 Copa Libertadores, the 1992 and 1993 Intercontinental Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2005. They had all come to pay tribute to Ceni, a member of the '93 and '05 winning squads. Some now looked less slim and sure-footed than in their pomp, after more than 20 years away, but this did not stop them reuniting to play in the cult hero's last game, which pitted the '1992/93 world champions' against their 2005 counterparts.
On one side stood the likes of Rai, Cafu, Zetti – Ceni's idol, whom he replaced as first choice in 1997 – and Ronaldao, with whom the man of the moment tasted global glory 22 years ago; on the other, Aloisio, Mineiro and Uruguayan Diego Lugano, linchpins of the 2005 successes.
As it so happens, this Monday 14 December marks exactly ten years since Ceni's goal against Al Ittihad in the Club World Cup, the only occasion when a keeper has scored in the competition. That same edition, the Brazilian custodian also became the first keeper to capture the adidas Golden Ball for the player of the tournament, a feat that would be emulated by Cassio of Corinthians in 2012.
Ceni signed off in signature style by getting on the scoresheet, naturally, and he also had a ball singing with a rock band. He was quick to thank his ex-colleagues for helping him to "forge a champion's mentality" and to voice his gratitude to the late Tele Santana, the coach of Sao Paulo's great 92-93 side, to whose memory the crowd dedicated a round of applause. The 42-year-old bowed out wearing the No1 shirt for the last time, as the club has aptly decided to retire the jersey in honour of a legendary figure who will go down as one of a kind.