Football great Pele hospitalized for tumor treatment

Agence France-Presse
Football great Pele hospitalized for tumor treatment
In this file photo taken on April 09, 2019, Brazilian football great Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, arrives at Guarulhos International Airport, in Guarulhos some 25km from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Nelson Almeida / AFP

SAO PAOLO, Brazil – Brazilian football legend Pele has been hospitalized for treatment of a previously identified colon tumor, his doctors said Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time), the latest health issue for the 81-year-old icon.

The three-time world champion was admitted to Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo "for follow-up treatment of the colon tumor identified in September this year," his medical team said in a statement.

"The patient is stable, and is expected to be released in the coming days."

It did not say when Pele was hospitalized.

Pele underwent surgery for the tumor on September 4, spending a month in the hospital before being released to continue chemotherapy.

The star's public relations agency described the latest hospital stay as routine.

"He went in for chemo. He always has to go to the hospital for the treatment," it said in a note.

"Papi is Great," said Pele's daughter Flavia Kurtz under a photo of him at the hospital after the procedure she posted to Instagram just after 7 p.m. (1000 GMT). 

Her sister Kely Nascimento, who has provided fans with updates on her father's condition, posted the same photo to Instagram.

"This was not a surprise. It was already scheduled and is part of the treatment," she said in the caption.

"In two or three days he will be back home to enjoy Christmas."

Considered by many the greatest footballer of all time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento — Pele's real name — has been in poor health in recent years, and has spent a number of stints in the hospital.

He has used a walker at his latest public appearances, which have grown increasingly rare.

But he maintains an active presence on social media, recently congratulating Lionel Messi for winning his seventh Ballon d'Or and posting a tribute to fellow South American star Diego Maradona on the first anniversary of his death.

The only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), Pele burst onto the global stage at just 17 by scoring dazzling goals, including two in the final against hosts Sweden, as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time in 1958.

"O Rei" (The King) went on to have one of the most storied careers in sport, scoring more than 1,000 goals before retiring in 1977.

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