Two months after undergoing prostate surgery, soccer legend Pelé went back under the knife Friday at Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo. A Portuguese-language newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, and other media outlets, including ESPN, said Saturday that Pelé was suffering from a painful pinched spinal nerve.
Pelé, 74, was treated for prostate surgery in May with no complications or evidence of cancer. But he suffered a urinary tract infection scare in November following the removal of kidney stones and was admitted to an intensive care unit during his recovery. Pele has one kidney; the other was removed near the end of his career.
Pelé’s representatives have not commented, and a spokeswoman at Sao Paolo’s Albert Einstein hospital told the BBC she was not allowed to say when or why Pele was admitted.
Pelé is considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time, scoring a record 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches in his 21-year career. The footballer made 14 World Cup Finals appearances, where he scored a dozen goals and helped his Brazilian team win three of the tournaments. He won the FIFA Golden Ball, soccer’s equivalent of "most valuable player," in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico City.
Pelé spends most of his time these days as an ambassador for the sport or winning lucrative endorsement deals worldwide through Legends 10, his exclusive global agent. In June, the champion praised efforts to use the sport to foster closer ties between the U.S. and Cuba when the New York Cosmos faced off with the Cuban national team in a friendly match in which the Cosmos won 4-1.
The Cosmos signed Pelé in the 1970s to play in the North American Soccer League. The team went under in the '80s but was revived in 2009 as a second-tier club.