Football legend Pele, pictured in 2009, was in hospital over Christmas as he battled colon cancer
Sao Paulo (AFP) - Family members spent Christmas on Sunday with Pele at the Sao Paulo hospital where the legendary footballer is battling worsening cancer as well as kidney and heart problems, according to social media posts by his children.
Fans of the player, considered by many to be the greatest of all time, have been expressing hope for his recovery since he was hospitalized in November.
“One more night with him,” Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento posted on Instagram on Sunday along with a photo of siblings and other relatives gathered at the Albert Einstein Hospital.
Pele was not visible in the image.
The message was the same as the one she posted on Friday, seemingly counting down the hours left with her father.
“Even in sadness we just have to be grateful,” she said. “To be grateful for being together, to be grateful for the love of you all, to be grateful for being here now with him. Merry Christmas.”
Also visible in the photo were Pele’s children Flavia, Celeste, Edinho and Joshua, as well as Gemima McMahon, the daughter of one of his wives.
On Wednesday, the hospital announced Pele’s colon cancer was showing “progression” and he needed “more extensive care to treat kidney and heart failure.”
Earlier that day, his daughters had announced he would not be home for Christmas.
Edinho, Pele’s son – who was recently appointed coach of Brazilian Serie B football club Londrina – arrived on Christmas Eve at the medical center, where he joined his sisters Kely and Flavia.
He posted a photo on Instagram showing him holding Pele’s hand, with the caption: “Father… my strength is yours.”
Edinho arrived a day after having explained his absence at his father’s side to local media.
“I would like to be present, but I am committed to my mission here. I’m not a doctor, I couldn’t really help much,” he said in an interview published on Friday by the daily Estadao.
That same day, Kely shared a photo of herself hugging her 82-year-old father in the hospital.
Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, has received several messages of support since his hospitalization, including one from the French star Kylian Mbappe, who called on followers to “pray for the King.”
Pele took the 1958 World Cup by storm when he was 17 years old, netting a hat trick in the semifinals and two more goals in the final, catapulting his own career and launching the dynasty of the Brazilian national team.
He is the only player in history to have won three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970).
In recent years, the man dubbed “The King” has faced deteriorating health and his public appearances have grown rare.
Pele was hospitalized on November 29 for what his medical team called a re-evaluation of his chemotherapy, which he has been receiving since a surgery to remove a colon tumor in September 2021.
He has also been treated for a respiratory infection.