Pelé has re-entered an intensive care unit at São Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital, ESPN Brasil reported on Friday, in an apparent deterioration of the three-time World Cup winner’s health after he left the unit earlier this week.
The hospital and Pelé’s representative in Santos said they could not confirm the news.
ESPN Brasil said Pelé was readmitted to the ICU due to acid reflux. The 80-year-old had a colon tumour removed this month and stayed in the hospital for further monitoring.
After he was transferred out of the ICU on Tuesday, Pelé posted a smiling image on Instagram with the message he was ready for “90 minutes, plus extra time”.
A star for Santos, Brazil and the New York Cosmos, Pelé is one of the greatest footballers of all time. He burst into the international stage as a 17-year-old in 1958, scoring six times in total and twice in the final as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time.
Brazil retained the trophy in 1962, though Pelé missed much of the tournament through injury, and won it once more in Mexico in 1970, Pelé on that occasion opening the scoring against Italy in the final.
He retired from the game in 1977, and his health has been a source of concern to family and fans in recent years.
He has suffered from hip problems for years and cannot walk unaided. In 2014 he spent some time in the ICU due to a severe urinary tract infection.
Last year, Pelé’s son said his father suffered from bouts of depression, something the star later denied. “I am good,” he said. “I continue to accept my physical limitations in the best way possible but I intend to keep the ball rolling. I have good days and bad days. That is normal for people of my age. I am not afraid, I am determined, confident in what I do.”
His public appearances were already being cut before the Covid-19 pandemic and since then he has made few unnecessary forays outside his house near Santos.