Brazil’s players paid tribute to legend Pele, who is receiving hospital treatment in Sao Paulo due to his ailing health, after sauntering to a 4-1 World Cup victory over South Korea.

Following Monday’s last-16 match at Stadium 974 in Doha, the players unfurled a huge banner to the 82-year-old, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

First-half goals from Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta saw Brazil put the game to bed long before Paik Seung-ho’s stunning consolation in the second period.

“It’s hard to talk about what Pele is going through right now but I wish him all the best,” said Neymar, who made his return from an ankle injury to play most of the game.

“I hope he will be back in good health as soon as possible and that we could have at least comforted him with the victory,” Neymar told Globo.

Pele’s battle with colon cancer is providing motivation for the players to try to win a record-extending sixth world title — the first three of which Pele was part of.

“He needs a lot of strength from us and this victory is for him, so that he can come out of this situation and that we can be champions for him,” said Vinicius.

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Brazil supporters display a banner depicting Brazilian football legend Pele and reading “Pele, get well soon”.Source: AFP

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With fans worldwide on edge over his health, ailing 82-year-old football legend Pele said Monday he was cheering for the Brazilian national team from hospital.

In a message on Instagram as the “Selecao” prepared for their 4-1 romp over South Korea in the round of 16, Pele said he was watching.

“I’ll be rooting for each one of you,” Pele, the only player to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), told the team.

“The King” posted a faded colour picture of himself as a baby-faced 17-year-old in Stockholm, Sweden, on his way to dazzling the planet with his extraordinary talent in Brazil’s maiden World Cup championship run.

Eight years earlier, seeing his footballer father cry when Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup final at home to Uruguay, Pele had promised to win the trophy one day.

“In 1958, in Sweden, I was walking through the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father,” Pele wrote.

“I know that many of the national team made similar promises and are also looking for their first World Cup. I want to inspire you, my friends … We are on this journey together. Good luck to our Brazil!”

Neymar and team did him proud, scoring a cascade of goals that evoked the “beautiful game” Pele embodied.

After the match, the team returned to the field carrying a banner marked “Pele!”, with a picture of him celebrating Brazil’s 1970 World Cup win.

Fans in the stadium could also be seen holding up pictures and messages in Pele’s honour.

Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, who scored Brazil’s opening goal, also sent “a big hug to Pele.”

“This win is for him,” he said. “I hope we’ll be champions for him.”

Brazil’s players hold a banner dedicated to banner Brazilian football legend Pele at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Brazil and South Korea at Stadium 974 in Doha on December 5, 2022. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP)Source: AFP

– FAMILY OPTIMISTIC –

Pele — whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento — has been in fragile health in recent years.

Operated for a colon tumour in September 2021, he has been in chemotherapy ever since. But doctors said he now needed a “re-evaluation” of his treatments.

They said he also had a respiratory infection, which they were treating with antibiotics.

Pele’s daughter Kely Arantes Nascimento said Sunday the new illness was the result of a Covid-19 infection Pele, who is fully vaccinated, contracted three weeks ago.

She told Brazilian TV network Globo Pele’s family and doctors are confident his life is not in immediate danger.

“When he gets better, he’ll come home,” she said.

Fans of Santos attend a vigil outside the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital where Brazilian football legend Pele is hospitalised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on December 4, 2022.Source: AFP

– FLOOD OF TRIBUTES –

Worried fans have been keeping vigil outside the hospital, praying for Pele’s recovery.

Tributes have also poured in from around the world, including in Qatar, where World Cup organisers lit up buildings with the message “Get well soon” and deployed dozens of drones to draw a Brazil jersey in the night sky over Doha with Pele’s iconic number 10 on it.

Current stars such as France striker Kylian Mbappe and England captain Harry Kane have also sent messages of support.

“Pray for the King,” Mbappe wrote on Twitter.

Brazil supporters stand above a banner depicting Brazilian football legend Pele.Source: AFP



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