RIO DE JANEIRO: Iconic Brazilian triple World Cup-winner Pele has undergone surgery to remove a tumor in the colon but is reportedly recovering well in hospital in Sao Paulo.

In a message to his fans, Edson Arantes do Nascismento said: “Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon. The tumor was identified during the tests that I mentioned in the last week.”

Pelé, who is recovering in the intensive care unit, visited the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo six days ago for a series of routine examinations that had been postponed because of the covid-19 pandemic.

These examinations revealed the tumor which, after being removed, will undergo a pathological analysis, according to a hospital statement.

He added: “My friends, thank you very much for the messages of affection. I thank God for feeling very good and for allowing doctors Fabio and Miguel to take care of my health.

“Fortunately, I am used to celebrating great victories next to you. I am going to face one more game with a smile on my face, a lot of optimism and joy for living surrounded by the love of my family and friends.”

Pele, who will be 81 in October, has been in fragile health for some years.