Brazilian soccer legend Pele said Monday he was recovering in hospital from surgery to remove a tumor from his colon.
“Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon,” he wrote on social media on Monday.
The 80-year-old did not reveal whether the tumor was malignant, but the former Santos and New York Cosmos forward said he was grateful to “God for feeling very well.”
“Fortunately, I’m used to celebrating great victories alongside you,” he said on Instagram.
“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 Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo said in a statement regarding Pele’s condition: “The tumor was identified during routine cardiovascular and laboratory examinations and the material was sent for pathological analysis.”
Pele, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is set to come out of intensive care on Tuesday and the tumor has been sent for tests, the Albert Einstein Hospital added.
The news came just hours after a Brazilian media outlet said Pele had spent six days in hospital after receiving his annual medical check-up.
On August 31, Pele refuted reports he had fainted and joked that he would be unavailable for Brazil’s upcoming World Cup qualifier with Argentina.
Pele is the only male soccer player to win three World Cups, plundering 77 goals in 92 games for the national side and is still Brazil’s all-time record goalscorer.
He repeated the feat at club level where he is Santos’ all-time top goalscorer with 643 goals from 659 games.
Youssoufa Moukoko had a dream debut in the under-19 Bundesliga, scoring six goals in Borussia Dortmund’s 9-2 drubbing of Wuppertaler SV. He first came to national attention earlier this year when it was reported that Nike had paid €10 million ($11.2 million) to get his name on a sponsorship deal. He will be eligible to play in the Bundesliga on November 20, 2020, when he turns 16.
Pele began playing for Santos at the age of 15 and Brazil a year later. He represented his country at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, scoring a hat-trick against France in the semifinal, becoming the youngest player to score in a World Cup in the process. He went on to make 92 appearances for Brazil, scoring 77 goals. He spent the last two seasons of his career with the New York Cosmos.
Diego Armando Maradona made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors at the age of 15 and went on to have a long and storied career with Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla among others. He also led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and is remembered for scoring against England with a blatant handball – and also scoring on a solo run that is considered one of the greatest goals in history.
Now 34, the Juventus forward made his debut with Sporting Lisbon at just 17 – scoring two goals. At 18 he joined Manchester United, where he spent several seasons before climbing to even greater heights with Real Madrid – scoring 311 goals in just 292 appearances for Los Blancos. He’s made 158 appearances for Portugal, and led them to the Euro 2016 title in France.
Kylian Mbappe debuted for Ligue 1 club Monaco in 2015 at the age of 16 and in 2017 he became the world’s second-most expensive transfer, moving to Paris Saint-Germain for a reported €180 million. Mbappe has since won several team and individual awards. On July 15, 2018 he became only the second teenager after Pele to score in a World Cup final as France beat Croatia 4-2 to lift the trophy.
Beyond Northern Ireland and Manchester, Norman Whiteside is perhaps best remembered for breaking Pele’s record for being the youngest to play in a World Cup – at 17 years and 41 days – in Spain in 1982. A year later, Whiteside became the youngest to score in an FA Cup final – as United beat Brighton 4-0 in a replay. However, a series of injuries forced him to retire as a player at just 26.
Prodigies don’t always live up to their billing. Freddy Adu was touted as the next Pele when he made his MLS debut at the age of 14 in 2004. Adu was traded from DC United to Salt Lake in 2006 before quickly moving to Benfica. But what followed was a journeyman career through more than a dozen clubs. Most recently he was dropped from the roster of the Las Vegas Lights of the USL Championship.
Alen Halilovic made his pro debut for Dinamo Zagreb at the age of 16 and made his first appearance for Croatia a few months later, becoming that country’s youngest player. Two years later he moved to Catalan powerhouse Barcelona and the sky seemed to be the limit. However, he would play just one match for Barca before being loaned out. He is currently on loan at Standard Liege from AC MIlan.
Alexandre Pato had an auspicious start to his career, deputing for Brazilian club Internacional at 16 – helping the club to win the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup. A year later he was at AC Milan, where the forward put up good numbers at first. Injuries contributed to a downward slide and he started bouncing around – winding up with Chinese side Tianjin Tianhai. He’s now back in Brazil with Sao Paolo.
John Bostock has the distinction of being the youngest player to debut for both Crystal Palace (15 in 2007) and Tottenham Hotspur (16 in 2008). However, his career quickly stalled and he embarked on a tour that took him all the way to MLS club Toronto FC, where he played just seven matches in 2013. The midfielder is now at Championship side Nottingham Forest, where he is on loan from Toulouse.
The Canadian, who was born to Liberian parents in a refugee camp in Ghana, signed his first professional contract with the Whitecaps FC2 of the USL at the age of 15 – later moving up to the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS. In the 2018 summer transfer window, Bayern Munich swooped in to bring the promising youngster to the Bundesliga. Still just 18, Davies has 14 caps and three goals for Canada.
jsi/rs (AFP, Reuters)