By Flora Charner, CNN
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé has left the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatment, he said in a tweet on Thursday.
“The photo of me smiling is not in vain. As promised, I’m going to spend Christmas with my family. I’m going back home. Thank you for all the thoughtful messages,” he said on his official Twitter account.
Pelé, 81, was hospitalized on December 8 for chemotherapy treatment of a colon tumor, a spokesperson at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital confirmed to CNN then.
In an Instagram post earlier this month, Pelé described the treatment as his last of the year with good humor. “I wanted to share this achievement with you. After all, every little victory is a reason to celebrate, don’t you think?”
Player of the century
Pelé previously underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his right colon in September 2021, which was found by doctors during routine examinations.
“When the path is difficult, celebrate each step of the journey,” he wrote on Instagram at the time.
“Focus on your happiness. It’s true that I can’t jump anymore, but these past few days, I’ve been punching the air more times than usual.
“Thanks also to all of you, who from afar, make my life complete with so many messages of love.”
The three-time World Cup winner, 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 Pelé as its Player of the Century, an honor he shared with Argentina’s Diego Maradona.
Last year, there were other fears over Pelé’s health, but he dismissed reports that he was suffering from depression during his recovery from hip surgery.
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