Pele development comes as welcome news during FIFA World Cup

Pictured left, Brazil football icon Pele and the national team on the right at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Doctors in Brazil have given a positive update on Pele's health after concerning reports. Pic: Getty

Doctors in Brazil have delivered a positive update on Pele in the wake of concerning reports about his deteriorating health. Officials say he is showing "progressive improvement" after being hospitalised last week to re-evaluate his treatment for colon cancer.

The 82-year-old national icon, who is also being treated for a respiratory infection, remained in a regular hospital room with stable vital signs and was conscious, according to medical staff at Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Hospital.

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The news backs up comments from his family earlier this week which dismissed media reports he was close to death. It had been rumoured that the Brazilian icon had been moved to end-of-life palliative care after he stopped responding to chemotherapy.

Pele’s daughter Flavia Nascimento was quick to shut down such reports as concern for the football great spread around the world. She said in an interview with Globo TV: "It's pretty unfair people saying that he is in terminal condition, that he is under palliative care. Believe us: that's not it."

In a further positive update, Pele's daughter Kely Nascimento confirmed that the reason the 82-year-old had been admitted to hospital was because of a lung infection. She said he would remain under the care of doctors for the time being.

"He is sick, he is old. But at the moment, he is there because of the lung infection. And once he feels better, he will go home again," Kely Nascimento said. "He is not saying goodbye in a hospital at the moment."

Pele's family will be hoping he'll be released from hospital sooner rather than later, following en encouraging update from doctors at the hospital.

"The patient continues to show progressive improvement in his general condition, in particular the respiratory infection," doctors said in a statement.

Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, three-time World Cup winner Pele had a tumour removed from his colon in September last year. He has been receiving medical care for ailments on a regular basis. The former striker played for Brazil and club sides Santos and the New York Cosmos, helping lead his country to three World Cup championships - in 1958, 1962 and 1970 - a feat no other player has achieved.

On Monday, Pele took to social media to show his support for Brazil's national team in their World Cup round of 16 match against South Korea, saying he would watch the game from hospital. The heavily favoured Brazilians hammered the South Koreans 4-1 to advance to the quarter-finals.

The legendary strike was at the forefront of the Brazil squad's thoughts during their 4-1 thumping of Korea in the World Cup round of 16 showdown. During the game, Brazil's players unfurled a banner on the pitch with a photo of the football legend during his 1970 World Cup win that simply read: "Pele!"

Brazil put on show for Pele against South Korea

The five-time World Cup champions tore Korea to shreds in the opening half, with goals from Vinicius Jr., Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Pacqueta putting the South Americans 4-0 up at halftime. To their credit, Korea never stopped trying and had a thunderous consolation goal from Paik Seung-ho to show for their troubles in the second half as Brazil took their foot off the pedal.

"We're dreaming of the title, of course," Brazilian talisman Neymar - who overcame an ankle sprain to start the game - said after the match. "Today was the fourth game, there are three left. We're very focused on getting that title."

Having failed to score in the first half of any match so far this tournament, five-times champions Brazil corrected that with a ruthless four-goal opening half that started with Vinicius Junior's seventh minute opener from Raphina's superb build-up. The Barcelona winger sliced through the red wall and when his cross eluded the closely-marked Neymar, Vinicius Junior was at the far post to gently lift the ball over scrambling defenders and the goalkeeper.

Brazil forward Richarlison's goal against Korea is being hailed by many fans as the best of the World Cup. Pic: SBS/Getty
Brazil forward Richarlison's goal against Korea is being hailed by many fans as the best of the World Cup. Pic: SBS/Getty

Five minutes later the Brazilians doubled their lead when Richarlison was hauled down in the penalty box and the referee instantly pointed to the spot. Neymar stepped up to wrong-foot goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu for his 76th Brazil goal - one shy of Pele's international haul.

By the half-hour mark it was 3-0, thanks to a Richarlison goal that many are tipping to be the best of the tournament.

Paqueta fired home in the 36th minute to complete Brazil's scoring for the first half, and the match. That the South Americans went in only 4-0 up was as much to do with their profligacy as anything the Koreans could muster in terms of defence. With their elaborate goal celebrations, the Brazilians had done more dancing than defending in the opening 45 minutes and the second half followed a similar pattern, with goalkeeper Kim single-handedly denying Brazil another hatful of goals.

with agencies

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