By Duarte Mendonca and Amy Woodyatt, CNN
Brazilian soccer great Pelé says he’s “strong” and has “a lot of hope” as he continues his treatment for colon cancer.
Pelé’s social media post on Saturday came after local media reports in Brazil said that the 82-year old former footballer’s health had worsened.
“My friends, I want to keep everyone calm and positive,” said a statement on Pelé’s Instagram page.
“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!”
According to a hospital statement on Saturday, Pelé’s health condition remains stable.
“He [Pelé] has shown good response to the respiratory infection care, not showing any worsening of his condition in the last 24 hours,” said Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Israeli Hospital.
The 82-year old former footballer, who is one of the greatest players of all time, was admitted to the Sao Paulo hospital on Tuesday to re-evaluate his cancer treatment after Pelé had a tumor removed from his colon in September 2021.
On Sunday, Brazil head coach Tite told a press conference about his being nervous to meet Pelé.
Tite said, “This is possibly the only person who I actually was shaking when I greeted him. I’m speaking from the bottom of my heart, [it was] a very emotional moment for me.
“[I was] told, ‘Go and hug Pelé.’ I stopped and I started shaking. My hands were sweating. My heartbeat increased. ‘Wow!’ I’m going to have the opportunity to greet Pelé. He is the person who represents for human representation of someone who… health, Pelé, health. That’s all I can give you. It’s something that all of us feel is a difficult moment.”
During Saturday, past and present soccer stars wished Pelé well on social media
Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé urged his Twitter followers on Saturday to “Pray for the King” — a reference to the Brazil great’s nickname — tagging Pelé in his tweet.
Meanwhile Brazilian soccer star Vinicius Jr., who is playing for the national team at Qatar 2022, and former Brazil great Rivaldo took to social media to urge the legend to “stay strong.”
The 82-year-old’s former club Santos FC added: “The whole world … is together with you, King Pele!”, while soccer’s governing body FIFA told the star to “get well soon.”
In December 2021, Pelé was hospitalized and underwent chemotherapy treatment. In September of that year, he underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his right colon, which doctors found during routine examinations.
Pelé is widely considered to be one of the greatest soccer players in history.
He played in four World Cups, winning three — in 1958, 1962, 1970) — and scoring 12 goals in 14 games. He scored 1,281 goals in his professional career in 1,363 games.
CNN’s Don Riddell spoke with fans about Pele in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, with one American saying that his first ever game was watching the Brazilian star in 1975 in Washington, DC. Pelé played for the New York Cosmos between 1975 and 1977.
The fan, who said he’s been to 11 World Cups, said Pele changed his life.
“Watching him was the first professional game I ever saw in 75 and because of that, one of the reasons this is my 11th World Cup,” Clifton Broumand told CNN.
“I’ve been going since Spain, because that really hooked me, watching him and his ability hooked me to coming and watching soccer and the World Cup,” added Broumand.
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Stefano Pozzebon, Wayne Sterling and Don Riddell contributed reporting.