Brazil football legend Pele back in hospital for colon tumour

The 81-year-old, three-time World Cup winner is ‘stable’ and expected to be released in a few days, his doctors said.

Pele in a car
Brazilian football great Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, has been hospitalised for treatment of a previously identified colon tumor [File: Nelson Almeida/AFP]

Brazilian football legend Pele has been hospitalised for treatment of a previously identified colon tumour, his doctors said, in the latest health problem for the 81-year-old icon.

The three-time World Cup winner was admitted to Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, “for follow-up treatment of the colon tumour identified in September this year”, his medical team said in a statement on Wednesday.

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

The statement gave no details on the seriousness of his tumour or how the treatment is progressing.

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

Considered by many as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele’s real name – has been in poor health in recent years, and has spent various stints in the hospital. Hip surgery left him with recurring pain and he cannot now walk unaided.

The only player in football history to win three World Cups – in 1958, 1962 and 1970 – 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.

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

Just weeks before the pandemic hit Brazil last year, his son said the former Santos and New York Cosmos player was depressed, which Pele later denied.

He appeared upbeat in videos taken during his recovery period in September and October and he said on Twitter last month that he was feeling better.

Source: News Agencies