SAO PAULO, Brazil – Soccer great Pelé said Monday he is celebrating a “great victory” after he had a tumor on the right side of his colon removed.
The 80-year-old sports icon from Brazil, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is recovering in the intensive care unit of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paulo, Reuters reported.
Pelé, who won three World Cups with Brazil, said he visited the hospital for routine exams last week. According to CNN, doctors found a suspicious lesion in his right colon while conducting cardiovascular and laboratory tests, Dr. Fabio Narsi and Dr. Miguel Cendoroglo Neto said in a statement.
“I thank God for feeling very well and for allowing Dr. Fábio and Dr. Miguel to take care of my health,” Pelé said in a social media post. “Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon. The tumor was identified during the tests I mentioned last week.
“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.”
Joe Fraga, Pele’s business manager, told The Athletic that the former athlete was doing well despite being hospitalized for several days.
“Full battery of tests/scans/colonoscopy/blood etc.,” Fraga wrote. “He doesn’t do everything in one day.”
Pelé won the 1958 World Cup as a teenager with Brazil and added titles in 1962 and 1970. He remains the country’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals, according to The Associated Press.
In 2000, FIFA named him as its Player of the Century, CNN reported. It was an honor he shared with Argentina’s Diego Maradona.
Famous for rarely being injured during his career with Brazil and with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, Pelé has suffered from hip problems and cannot walk without assistance, Reuters reported.
Pelé tweeted last week that he was in good health amid reports he had fainted.
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