FOOTBALL legend Pele has thanked fans for their get-well messages after leaving intensive care following a colon tumour op.
The three-time Brazil World Cup winner also cracked a new joke about being ready to play football again in his first social media post since his hospital move.
The 80-year-old, who remains at the Alberto Enstein Hospital in Sao Paulo after going under the knife, posted a smiling selfie photo of him with his fists clenched in a victory sign and wrote: “My friends, this is a message for each of you.
“Don’t think for a minute that I haven’t read the thousands of loving messages I’ve received around here.
“Thank you very much to each one of you, who dedicated a minute of your day to send me positive energy.
“Love, love and love! I have already left the intensive care unit and I am in my room. I continue every day happier, with a lot of disposition to play 90 minutes, plus extra time. We will be together soon!”
Earlier Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento had provided a positive update on her dad’s condition on her Instagram account.
She wrote: “I would like to thank you very, very much, from the bottom of my heart, for all the loving and concerned texts, DMs, zaps and emails I have received.
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“I haven’t had time to answer them all yet, but I read it and feel embraced!
“He is recovering well from the surgery. He’s pain free, in a good mood ( He’s a little irritated that he can only eat jelly but he’ll get over it!! ) and ready to leave intensive care and then go home.”
Hospital bosses have not yet said when they think Pele, full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, will be well enough to go home after surgery to remove a tumour in his colon.
The former Santos’ striker’s colon tumour was found when he went into hospital for routine examinations at the end of August. His surgery took place on September 4 and he had been expected to leave intensive care last week.
His public appearances were already reduced before the coronavirus pandemic.
And Pele sparked concern about his health in a recent Netflix documentary on his career after he was seen using a walking frame.
The former footballer, the only male player to win three World Cups, has had mobility problems since a failed hip replacement surgery in 2012.
In recent years, he has also undergone kidney and prostate procedures.
He won the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cups, and remains Brazil´s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals in 92 matches.