By Mitchell McCluskey and Marcia Reverdosa, CNN
Brazilian football hero Pele underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his right colon last Saturday, he announced on social media on Monday.
The news of the surgery follows Pele’s denial of reports that he had fainted last week, when he said that he was in good health and receiving routine examinations.
The 80-year-old sports icon is recovering well in the ICU following the removal of the tumor, according to his doctors at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paulo.
During one of the cardiovascular and laboratory tests, doctors had found a suspicious lesion in his right colon, which was discovered to be a tumor, said Dr. Fabio Narsi and Dr. Miguel Cendoroglo Neto in a statement.
“My friends, thank you very much for the kind messages. I thank God for feeling very well and for allowing Dr. Fábio and Dr. Miguel to take care of my health,” Pele said in a post on social media.
“Fortunately, I’m used to celebrating great victories alongside you. 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,” Pele said.
Pele, who burst onto the international stage as a teenager the 1958 World Cup, has remained in the spotlight even after his retirement through international product endorsements and as an outspoken public figure.
In 2000, FIFA named him as its Player of the Century, an honor he shared with Argentina’s Diego Maradona.
Last year there were fears over Pele’s health, but he dismissed reports that he was suffering from depression during his recovery from hip surgery.
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Reporting from CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey in Atlanta and Marcia Reverdosa in São Paulo.