Ailing soccer legend Pelé: ‘With each passing day I get closer to the goal’

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé recently turned 81 years old.
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé — considered one of the greatest players of all time — asked fans and supporters on Wednesday to begin celebrating his life as he continues “getting closer to the goal.”

The 80-year-old has been in poor health for some time and was discharged from the hospital three weeks ago after getting a tumor removed from his colon. He has continued undergoing chemotherapy after the tumor was discovered during routine tests on Aug. 31.

“I suggest you start to catch your breath to celebrate with me because with each passing day I get closer to the goal,” he wrote on Twitter.

He offered no other updates on his health.

Pelé also had surgery on his prostate in 2015 after he was admitted to the hospital for a second time in six months. In 2019, he was admitted again for a urinary infection.

The Brazilian talisman is the only man ever to win three World Cups and one of only four men’s players to score in four different World Cups. He is his country’s all-time leading goal scorer with 77 goals in 92 games.

Playing his league soccer mostly with Santos in his native Brazil, Pelé helped put soccer on the map in the United States by joining the NASL’s New York Cosmos — at the time, the top league in the country — where he played from 1975-1977.

When the team rebooted in 2010 before beginning competitive play three years later in the United States’ third tier of professional soccer, the NISA, Pelé was named an honorary president

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé turns 81 years old on Saturday.

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