Family members spent Christmas morning with Pele on Sunday at the hospital in Sao Paulo, where the soccer legend is battling worsening cancer as well as kidney and heart problems, according to a social media post by his daughter.
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 Sao Paulo in late November.
Shortly after midnight, at the beginning of Christmas Day, Pele’s daughter posted a photo of footballer Kely Nascimento’s wife, Marcia Aoki, and other relatives gathered at the Albert Einstein Hospital where they are being treated. Pele was not visible in the picture.
“Almost all of us. Merry Christmas. Gratitude, love, unity, family. The essence of Christmas. Thank you all for the love and light you send us,” Kely wrote.
On Wednesday, the hospital announced that Pele’s colon cancer was showing “progression” and that he needed “more extensive care to treat kidney and heart failure.”
That same day, her daughters announced that she would not be home for Christmas.
Edinho, Pele’s son – who was recently appointed coach of Brazilian Serie B football club Londrina, based in northern Parana – arrived at the medical center on Christmas Eve and was joined by sisters Kely and Flavia Nascimento.
She posted a photo on Instagram of herself holding the soccer star’s hand and captioned it: “Dad…my strength is yours.”
It arrived a day after Edinho, a former goalkeeper, revealed to the local media that he was no longer at his father’s side.
“I would like to be present, but I am committed to the mission here. I’m not a doctor, I really couldn’t help much,” he said in an interview published by the newspaper Estadao on Friday.
Earlier that day, Kely shared a photo of herself hugging her 82-year-old father in hospital with the caption, “One more night together.”
Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, has received several messages of support since his hospitalization, including from French star Kylian Mbappe, who called on supporters to “pray for the king”.
Pele won the 1958 World Cup as a 17-year-old, scoring a hat trick in the semi-finals and two more in the final, catapulting his career and launching the Brazilian national football dynasty.
He is the only player in history to have won three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970).
In recent years, the man known as “The King” has been in declining health and his public appearances have become rare.
He was hospitalized on November 29 for what his medical team called a review of his chemotherapy treatments, which he has been receiving since undergoing surgery to remove a colon tumor in September 2021.