SAO PAULO: Pele has been released from the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo after undergoing successful hip replacement surgery.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, now 72, was in tears when he spoke to reporters on leaving the hospital in a wheelchair.

He said: “I never imagined that the Brazilian people would be so concerned about me. I want to thank everybody who sent me messages of support.”

Pele underwent surgery last Saturday after originally visiting his doctor for a routine medical check to renew his health insurance.

His specialist, Dr Roberto Dantas Queiroz, said the former Santos and New York Cosmos star would remain in a wheelchair during his initial recovery stage.

According to Queiroz, the joint’s damage had largely been caused by years of wear and tear suffered during his playing career which included World Cup-winning medals in 1958, 1962 – though he missed the final through injury – and 1970.

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