Brazilian football legend Pele has been hospitalized for treatment of a previously identified colon tumor, his doctors said Wednesday, 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. 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 various 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 legend 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.