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Pelé says he is feeling ‘strong’ after reports of move to end-of-life care

The Brazilian football great Pelé posted on Instagram on Saturday evening to say that he is feeling “strong” and “with hope”, after an outpouring of concern online in response to unconfirmed reports that he had been moved to palliative care.

“I want to keep everyone calm and positive,” Pelé wrote, sharing the latest medical report from São Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital that says he remains in stable condition. “I follow my treatment as usual.”

Pelé, 82, who helped the Brazilian national team win three World Cups, ended his message by calling on fans to watch the seleção play in this year’s tournament. Brazil will face South Korea in Doha on Monday.

Earlier, the hospital said Pelé remained in a stable condition after being hospitalised this week as he battles colon cancer. He has also responded well to treatment for a respiratory infection and his condition has not worsened in the last 24 hours, the medical staff said. He was admitted to hospital on Tuesday to re-evaluate his cancer treatment.

On Saturday morning the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that Pelé is receiving palliative care after he stopped responding to chemotherapy treatment for the cancer.

According to the newspaper, the chemotherapy has now been suspended and Pelé is receiving end-of-life care, being treated only for symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath.

The Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo declined to confirm reports that the football legend known as The King is under palliative care and said it would only communicate through official bulletins. A medical report released on Friday said Pelé was being treated with antibiotics for a respiratory infection. His condition was “stable, with a general improvement in his health status”, the report said.

Football stars past and present, including French striker Kylian Mbappé, wished Pelé well on social media following the reports that he is receiving palliative care. “Pray for The King,” Mbappé tweeted.

Pelé had sought to reassure fans in an Instagram post on Thursday, saying that he was making his “monthly visit” to hospital. He posted a picture of a Qatar building lit up with a message wishing him a prompt recovery and thanked the World Cup-hosting nation for “the tribute”.

His daughter, Kely Nascimento, who is in Qatar for the tournament, also sought to assuage concerns surrounding the football legend’s health. “The media is freaking out again,” she said on social media on Thursday, adding that her siblings were with their father and that Pelé’s health did not require her to jump on a plane back to Brazil.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. He rose to international fame aged just 17 when he scored six goals for Brazil in the 1958 World Cup, including two in the final in which Brazil beat the hosts, Sweden, to win their first world title.

Pelé, who retired from football in 1977, has been suffering from health problems in recent years. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in September 2021 and spent two weeks in hospital last December.