Legendary Soccer Star Pelé Undergoes Surgery to Remove Tumor

"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," Pelé wrote on Instagram Monday

Pelé. Photo: Friedemann Vogel/Getty

Legendary Brazilian soccer star Pelé is recovering from a surgery to remove a tumor, he shared on social media Monday.

The 80-year-old athlete — recognized as one of the best players of all time — said in an Instagram post (originally written in Portuguese) that the surgery took place on Saturday after doctors discovered a "suspicious lesion" in his right colon during some routine tests.

In a statement Monday, Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Hospital told NBC News that Pelé was still in the intensive care unit, but was expected to be moved into a room on Tuesday. NBC News also reported that his tumor has been sent for testing.

"My friends, thank you very much for the kind messages. I thank God for feeling very well and for allowing Dr. Fábio and Dr. Miguel to take care of my health," Pelé wrote in his post. "Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon. The tumor was identified during the tests I mentioned last week."

Pelé. Christopher Furlong/Getty

Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) said that he is optimistic following the procedure, and will continue his recovery with a positive attitude.

"Fortunately, I'm used to celebrating great victories alongside you," he continued. "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."

Last Tuesday, Pelé said on Twitter that although he had gone to Albert Einstein Hospital, he was in "very good health."

"Guys, I didn't faint and I'm in very good health. I went for my routine exams, which I had not been able to do before because of the pandemic," he said, joking, "Let them know I don't play next Sunday!"

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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. He has also had back and prostate surgeries.

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