Pele staying ´strong´ as Brazil World Cup legend responds to claims of failing health

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Pele urged the football community to be “calm and positive” after it was reported on Saturday that his health has taken a turn for the worse.

It was claimed, though not officially confirmed, that the 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care as he was no longer responding to chemotherapy treatment.

Pele issued a statement to say he remained “strong, with a lot of hope” and continued to be treated.

The hospital treating the 82-year-old, who is Brazil’s record scorer and a three-time World Cup winner, described Pele’s condition as “stable”.

A report from newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo said Pele was now receiving pain-relieving measures in an end-of-life care ward. The Santos great underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.

After the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Vinicius Junior sent messages of support from the Qatar World Cup, Pele spoke out in an effort to clarify the situation.

Pele wrote on Instagram: “My friends, I want to keep everyone calm and positive. I’m strong, with a lot of hope and I follow my treatment as usual. I want to thank the entire medical and nursing team for all the care I have received.

“I have a lot of faith in God and every message of love I receive from you all over the world keeps me full of energy. And watch Brazil in the World Cup too! Thank you so much for everything.”

The Brazilian football Federation (CBF) responded by saying: “Stay strong, King! It’s going to be all right! We are with you.”

Kaka, the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner, added: “We keep praying King.”

Pele was hospitalised on Tuesday, though his daughter said a day later there was “no surprise or emergency”, with Pele also saying it was simply a “monthly visit”.

The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein issued a short update on Pele’s state of health on Saturday that did not specifically reference the suggestion Pele was receiving palliative care.

Referring to Pele by his full name, the statement read: “Edson Arantes do Nascimento was admitted to the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein last Tuesday for a reassessment of the chemotherapy treatment for the colon tumour, identified in September 2021.

“He is still undergoing treatment and the state of health remains stable.”

The hospital said Pele had also shown “a good response” to treatment for a respiratory infection, “with no worsening of the condition in the last 24 hours”.

At the age of 17, Pele inspired Brazil to their first World Cup triumph in 1958 and he won the tournament twice more with the Selecao, in 1962 and 1970.

He remains the youngest scorer in a World Cup final, netting a double in Brazil’s 5-2 win over hosts Sweden in 1958 at the age of 17 years and 249 days.

On Saturday, Australia’s Garang Kuol became the youngest player since Pele on that occasion 64 years ago to feature in the knockout stages of a World Cup, with the young Socceroos forward appearing as a substitute against Argentina at the age of 18 years and 79 days.

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