Brazilian football great Pele has undergone surgery for a suspected colon tumor and is recovering, the hospital in Sao Paulo treating him announced on Monday.
“The tumor was identified during routine cardiovascular and laboratory examinations and the material was sent for pathological analysis,” said the Albert Einstein Hospital, where Pele has been treated since August 31.
“I thank God for feeling very well,” the 80-year-old wrote on his Instagram page on Monday.
“Fortunately, I’m used to celebrating great victories alongside you.
“I will face this match with a smile on my face, a lot of optimism and joy for living surrounded by the love of my family and friends.”
Pele is due out of intensive care on Tuesday, the hospital said in a statement.
His former club Santos shared a message of support for the star on Twitter. “It will be one more victory in your life, we wish you a good recovery!” the club said.
Pele, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, has been in poor health in recent years, and has had various spells in hospital, most recently in April 2019, in Paris, because of a severe urinary tract infection.
Back in Brazil, he had a kidney stone removed.
At the end of 2014, he suffered from a serious urinary tract infection and was placed in intensive care and on dialysis.
He also has hip problems and needed a walker to move around during his latest public appearances.
In February 2020, Pele reassured his fans about his mental health, after remarks by his son Edinho saying that he was “reclusive” and suffering “from a certain form of depression.”
- Three World Cups -
The only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), Pele is considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time.
He burst onto the global stage at just 17 with dazzling goals, including two in the final against hosts Sweden, as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time in 1958.
Four years later, Pele gave a tantalizing glimpse of his ability with an electric individual goal against Mexico in Brazil’s opening 2-0 win.
But he aggravated an existing injury in the second game, against the Czechs, and was forced to sit out the remainder of the tournament as his countrymen successfully defended their title.
Nicknamed “O Rei” (The King), Pele scored the opener in Brazil’s 4-1 final win over Italy in Mexico in 1970.
After retiring from international football, Pele went on to play for the New York Cosmos, before ending his career with over 1,000 goals to his name.