Entertainment Sports Brazilian Soccer Star Pelé Assures Fans He's 'Closer to the Goal' of Recovery amid Health Issues Superstar athlete Pelé, who turns 81 on Saturday, shared a post saying he's "closer" to recovery "with each passing day" after undergoing colon surgery last month By Dan Heching Dan Heching Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on October 21, 2021 10:54 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Friedemann Vogel/Getty Pelé is ensuring concerned fans that he's "closer to the goal" of recovery after enduring some health scares. The Brazilian soccer star, who will turn 81 on Saturday, shared a message to Instagram updating his 7.3 million followers on his condition following surgery to remove a lesion in his colon in September. Alongside a throwback black-and-white photo of him playing soccer on the field, Pelé wrote, "I suggest you start to catch your breath to celebrate with me, because with each passing day I get closer to score a goal." Legendary Soccer Star Pelé Undergoes Surgery to Remove Tumor Reuters reports that Pelé is also undergoing chemotherapy as part of his recovery. The update comes after the former soccer forward returned home at the end of last month following surgery earlier in September. In a post on Sept. 30th, the former Minister of Sport of Brazil posted a selfie at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo surrounded by medical staff. "When the path is difficult, celebrate each 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 times than usual," he wrote. "I am so happy to be back at home. I want to thank the entire Albert Einstein Hospital team, who made my stay a pleasant one, with a humane and very affectionate welcome." Soccer Star Pelé Remains in Intensive Care After Surgery, But Is 'Looking Forward to Playing Again' After undergoing surgery, the octogenarian athlete spent some time in intensive care, before transferring to a hospital room and working with physical therapists to aid in his recovery. He documented his journey on Instagram, often sharing words of encouragement like, "When life imposes a challenge, it's always easier to face it with a smile on your face" alongside a grinning selfie. Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, originally shared the news of his surgery on Sept. 6, writing in an Instagram post, "Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon." RELATED VIDEO: Jason Sudeikis Supports England's Black Soccer Players at Ted Lasso Premiere with Bold Sweatshirt The athlete — recognized as one of the best soccer players of all time — added, "Fortunately, I'm used to celebrating great victories alongside you. I will face this match with a smile on my face, a lot of optimism and joy for living surrounded by the love of my family and friends." The star underwent a procedure to remove a tumor on the right side of his colon, which appeared after routine cardiovascular and laboratory exams at the end of August. NBC News reported that his tumor has been sent for testing. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. Pelé retired from professional soccer in 1977 following an illustrious career. He joined Santos FC in 1956 at age 15. By the following year, he was the league's top scorer and had joined Brazil's national team. After 19 seasons with Santos, Pelé joined the New York Cosmos and played for three seasons in the United States. The star forward remains the only male player to have won three World Cups, having helped Brazil emerge victorious in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He is also Brazil's all-time highest scorer with 77 goals. In 2012, Pelé underwent an unsuccessful hip replacement surgery, which was followed by a corrective procedure four years later and has caused him mobility issues. He has also had back and prostate surgeries.