Brazil Legend Pele Transferred To Special Care Unit; Tweets That He Is "Doing Fine" To Reassure His Alarmed Nation
Throwing the entire South American country — and surely millions of soccer fans worldwide — into a state of alarm, the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paolo released a statement early Thursday that Brazilian soccer superstar Pele has been transferred to a "special care unit" due to what it called "clinical instability."
The soccer icon was admitted to the hospital three days before for a urinary tract infection caused by a recent surgery to remove his kidney stones. The hospital's statement sent the soccer-crazed nation into a frenzy, and Brazilian media widely reported that Pele's condition had worsened.
However, the panic was mostly unfounded — his manager, Paul Kemsley, told the Associated Press in a statement that reports of his deteriorating condition and about him going into intensive care "were greatly exaggerated." Kemsley added:
He was relocated to a special area of the hospital for privacy purposes only, due to having an overwhelming number of visitors which prevented him from getting the necessary care and treatment. He is expected to make a quick and full recovery.
Affectionally and reverentially known as "O Rei," or "The King," Pele is a national treasure of sorts, and is exalted by soccer — or football, to the rest of the world — fans everywhere. Often hailed as the best soccer player in the world, the 74-year-old is a three-time World Cup winner — in 1958, 1962, and 1970 — and has scored 1283 goals in his career.
Despite its uncharacteristically poor performance in this year's World Cup — Germany trounced them 7-1 in the semifinals — played on their grounds, Brazil is widely considered one of the game's most beautiful players, and Pele the most brilliant of all. While he has since retired, he remains a global soccer ambassador, as well as the face of brands such as Hublot and, surprisingly, Subway. Yup — that Subway.
Speaking to AP today, his spokesperson and personal aide said, with perhaps a hint of exasperation:
He is fine. The problem was that he was receiving too many visitors and that wasn't helping, so they transferred him to a calmer area to continue receiving the proper treatment. He should be out of the hospital in a few days.
"Special care" is understood to be somewhere in between routine care and intensive care, and Pele can still receive visitors. The retired soccer great took to Twitter later that day to let his frantic worshippers know that he was doing fine.
See, guys? He's doing great — save for having to entertain a thousand worried visitors — and will continue to grace us with his presence for, I don't know, hopefully another century or so.
Images: Getty Images (2)