Pelé remained in hospital as cancer treatment ‘almost a success’

Tributes are pouring in for Brazil’s greatest footballer, the recently retired Pelé, who will remain in hospital for “a few days”, his son said on Friday. The 74-year-old star, who was diagnosed with a…

Pelé remained in hospital as cancer treatment 'almost a success'

Tributes are pouring in for Brazil’s greatest footballer, the recently retired Pelé, who will remain in hospital for “a few days”, his son said on Friday. The 74-year-old star, who was diagnosed with a lung tumour last week, has undergone successful chemotherapy.

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“He is fine. He has undergone a wonderful treatment … It is important to understand that he will remain in hospital for the next few days,” said Pelé’s son Rafael in an interview with Globo, Brazil’s biggest TV network. “He’s in good spirits, but we’ll see,” he added.

Tributes have poured in from across the globe for the “Godfather of Football”, who retired last year as the top scorer in the history of the game with 1,283 goals.

Rafael said his father would remain in hospital for “several days” and will not attend the opening of the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte, where the 2016 Copa Libertadores final between Flamengo and Santos is being held.

The organisers were on Friday forced to suspend the match in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s biggest city, after the cancer stricken Pelé, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was admitted to hospital.

“I am sad but I am also very grateful. My gratitude is not only in my heart, but also to the doctors, the good doctor, who treated me during this four-day stay in hospital,” Pelé wrote on his blog.

The message, which the Guardian published on Tuesday, said he was undergoing “several days of chemotherapy” in his home city. The start of the Copa Libertadores final is on Monday and Paulo Sergio Bastos, the president of the organising committee for the final, said the delay would not affect the event.

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said he was relieved that the game was on but “that didn’t make us joyful”, Rio de Janeiro’s governor, Sergio Cabral, said. “If I wasn’t angry, I would be sad,” he added.

The workman-turned-football legend from the favela of Santos has held the record of most goals in the history of the game since the 1973 World Cup. In total, he scored 1,281 goals in a career spanning seven decades, including six with the Brazilian national team and 51 with the Brazilian club Santos.

World soccer body Fifa said it was “very sorry” to hear of Pelé’s diagnosis but was working “with all respect and discretion” for his best interests.

Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo said Pelé was “heartbroken” at the news and had decided to miss the finals game in Rio, because he was worried the new World Cup logo for the competition may be unveiled during the game.

Earlier on Friday, Rio’s chief minister, Fernando Haddad, expressed the desire to seek damages from the World Cup organising committee for the delay to the game, according to the Guardian.

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella, has refused to address questions about Santos’s place in the trophy, telling reporters it was up to “Fifa to interpret how they want to [use the event’s title]”.

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