Brazilian football legend Pele was released from a month-long hospital stay Thursday after having surgery for a colon tumor, but will continue undergoing chemotherapy, his medical team said.
Pele, 80, had been receiving treatment at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo since August 31, after a suspected tumor was detected during routine tests.
Pele, who underwent surgery on September 4, is in “stable” condition, doctors said.
The hospital did not use the word “cancer” in its statement and gave no further details on Pele’s chemotherapy, but the treatment is typically used in cancer patients. The results of his biopsy were not made public.
“I am so happy to be back at home,” Pele said in a statement on Facebook.
“I want to thank the entire Albert Einstein Hospital team, who made my stay a pleasant one, with a humane and very affectionate welcome. Thanks also to all of you, who from afar, make my life complete with so many messages of love.”
“When the road is hard, celebrate every step of the journey. Focus on your happiness. It’s true that I can’t jump anymore, but these past few days, I’ve been punching the air more often than usual,” he wrote.
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 had various stints in the hospital.
The only player in history to win three World Cups (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.
“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.
– ‘Face it with a smile’ –
Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento has provided fans with updates on her father’s condition during his hospital stay, posting pictures and videos on social media — of them playing cards, or the footballer singing the anthem of Santos, his former club.
Last week, his daughter said he had taken “several steps” towards recovery after his operation.
On Saturday, Pele praised “outstanding” Lionel Messi for breaking his record as the top goal scorer in a South American national team — and apologized for the delay in offering his congratulations due to his medical treatment.
“When life imposes a challenge, it’s always easier to face it with a smile,” Pele wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday.
Pele has shied away from public life in recent years.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — which to date has left nearly 600,000 people dead in Brazil — he isolated at his home in Guaruja on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, using social media to promote vaccination.
A documentary on Pele’s life was released on streaming platform Netflix at the start of the year, with recent video showing the former sportsman moving slowly with the aid of a walker.