Pele health 'improving progressively': hospital

Pele's health is "improving progressively," his doctors said Tuesday, a week after the 82-year-old Brazilian football legend was hospitalized amid ongoing treatment for colon cancer.

With the FIFA World Cup 2022 in full swing in Qatar, fans have been on edge over the health of the footballer considered by many the greatest of all time, who has been in fragile health in recent years.

Pele was hospitalized last Tuesday in Sao Paulo for what doctors called a "reevaluation" of his chemotherapy treatments, which he has been undergoing since having surgery in September 2021 to remove a colon tumor.

They also diagnosed a respiratory infection, which they are treating with antibiotics.

His family said it was the result of a Covid-19 infection that Pele, who is fully vaccinated, contracted three weeks ago.

Pele "continues improving progressively, especially the respiratory infection," his medical team said in a statement.

"He remains in a standard room, with stable vital signs, conscious and with no new complications."

The player known as "The King" got a moving tribute Tuesday from the Brazilian national team after they danced their way to a dazzling 4-1 win over South Korea in the World Cup, securing a spot in the quarter-finals.

Neymar and team returned to the pitch after the match carrying a banner marked "Pele!" with a picture of the football icon celebrating Brazil's 1970 World Cup championship – the third of the country's record five titles.

Pele, the only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), had earlier posted a message to the "Selecao" on Instagram, telling them he would be cheering them on from the hospital.

"I'll be rooting for each one of you," he wrote.

"I want to inspire you, my friends… We are on this journey together. Good luck to our Brazil!"

The team did him proud, scoring a cascade of goals that evoked the "samba football" Pele embodied.

"It's hard to talk about what Pele is going through, but I wish him all the best," Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar said after the match – in which he converted a penalty, taking him to within one goal of Pele's all-time Brazil scoring record.

"I hope he'll get well as soon as possible, and that we at least brought him some comfort with the win and the banner we dedicated to him."

Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, who scored Brazil's opening goal, also sent "a big hug to Pele."

"This win is for him," he said. "I hope we'll be champions for him."

Pele – whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento – has also received a flood of messages from fans and current football stars around the world, including France striker Kylian Mbappe and England captain Harry Kane.

His family say they are optimistic about his condition.

"When he gets better, he'll come home," his daughter Kely Arantes Nascimento said Sunday.

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