Pele discharged from hospital in time for Christmas

Pele and daughter Kely

The 81-year-old had joked he was ‘getting ready’ for the holiday season earlier this month when it emerged he was back at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo for further treatment following the removal of a tumour on his colon on September 4.

And in his first words since being told he could go home after 17 days, the three-time World Cup winner shared an old photo of him smiling and captioned it with: “The smiling photo is not for nothing.

“As I promised you, I will spend Christmas with my family. I’m coming back home. Thanks for all the kind messages.”

The hospital confirmed Pele had been discharged in a statement that referred to him by his real name: “Edson Arantes do Nascimento was discharged from the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital on December 23.

“The patient is stable and will continue his treatment for the colon tumour which was identified in September.”

Local reports overnight said Pele had experienced difficulties eating at times during his hospital stay but the problem had been resolved ahead of his release.

He spent the festive season with his third wife Marcia Aoki who is 25 years his junior and daughters Flavia and Kelly at his beach town home in Guaruja on Santo Amaro island an hour and a half’s drive south of Sao Paulo.

The huge property overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is on beautiful Pernambuco Beach.

Guaruja, nicknamed ‘The Pearl of the Atlantic’, is a popular weekend destination for families from Sao Paulo.

Cristiano Ronaldo was among the friends and fans around the world who sent Pele get-well messages after the Brazilian soccer hero joked his latest hospital admission was down to him getting ready for Christmas.

He first revealed in September that he would need to keep undergoing chemotherapy sessions after leaving hospital following his op.

His colon tumour was found when he went into hospital for routine examinations at the end of August. His surgery took place on September 4.

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 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.

The former footballer spent most of his career at Santos, scoring 501 goals in his 493 appearances.