Soccer legend Pelé undergoes back surgery in latest health scare

Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:43pm EDT
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian soccer legend Pelé has undergone back surgery, a close aide told Reuters on Saturday, the latest in a series of recent health problems afflicting the 74-year-old former player.

Pelé, whose given name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, has been at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paulo for the past "two or three days" and underwent a procedure to decompress a nerve root in his spine, his personal assistant José Fornos Rodrigues said. He did not elaborate further.

According to GloboNews news channel, Pelé is expected to leave the hospital on Monday. Hospital staff were not immediately available to comment.

This is the third time Pelé has been hospitalized since November. He spent two weeks at the Einstein facility with kidney problems, and in May he underwent prostate surgery in the same hospital.

With more than 1,280 career goals and an unequaled three World Cup titles during his playing career, Pele is considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all-time.

(Reporting by Paula Laier and Alonso Soto; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele waves to the crowd after speaking during Electronic Arts media briefing before the opening day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California June 15, 2015.   REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1GN6H