Brazilian football legend Pele has left an intensive care unit in Sao Paulo, and joked he is ready for “90 minutes plus extra time” with fans while updating them on his current health situation on social media.
At the Albert Einstein Hospital in his country’s largest city, the 80-year-old completed surgery that removed a tumor from his colon.
This was detected as part of routine tests, and the man regarded by many as the greatest player of all time had been having treatment at the top class institute which president Jair Bolsonaro had attended in 2018 after being stabbed on his victorious campaign trail.
Taking to Instagram, Pele posted a passionate address to his 7.2 million followers.
“My friends, this is a message for each of you. Don’t think for a minute that I haven’t read the thousands of loving messages I’ve received around here,” it began.
“Thank you very much to each one of you, who dedicated a minute of your day to send me positive energy. Love, love and love!”
“I have already left the ICU and I am in my room. I continue every day happier, with a lot of disposition to play 90 minutes, plus extra time. We will be together soon!” he vowed.
Fellow icons of Brazilian football such as Daniel Alves and Kaka congratulated the three-time World Cup winner, who is known in their homeland as ‘O Rei’, or ‘The King’.
Last year, his son claimed to Globoesporte that the Santos academy product had become “embarrassed” to leave the house as he was unable to walk without help.
With a 20 years younger Diego Maradona passing away in November, Pele’s health has also been a cause for concern to football fans.
In 2015, he had prostate surgery after being admitted to hospital for the second time over a six month period, and was there again for a stay in 2019 with a urinary infection.
Recently overtaken by Lionel Messi as South America’s all-time top scorer when the Argentine bagged a hat trick against Bolivia, Pele still holds the title on Brazilian soil with 77 strikes in 92 games while one of just a quartet of players to have netted at four different World Cups.