Pele, in Chile, says he has re­cov­ered af­ter his health scare

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY LUIS AN­DRES HE­NAO

Brazil­ian soc­cer leg­end Pele said Thurs­day that he has “hap­pily re­cov­ered” from a re­cent health scare.

The 74-year-old spent time in in­ten­sive care late last year be­cause of a uri­nary tract in­fec­tion and had to un­dergo phys­io­ther­apy to re­cover some of the mus­cle mass that he lost dur­ing his hos­pi­tal stay.

“I want to thank God be­cause I have my health and I’m here be­fore you all,” Pele said while vis­it­ing a slum in San­ti­ago. “I feel blessed be­cause with health you can do it all.”

The three-time World Cup cham­pion said his re­cov­ery now feels like “the most im­por­tant medal.” But he joked that although fit, he’s not ready to play in the Copa Amer­ica tour­na­ment that kicks off in Chile in June.

Pele is widely re­garded as one of the great­est soc­cer play­ers of all time. He is a na­tional hero in Brazil and re­mains a global am­bas­sador for the game.

Dur­ing his visit to the Parce­las de Ma­puhue, a trash- strewn slum of wooden shacks with tin roofs, he re­mem­bered his hum­ble ori­gins, shared laughs with res­i­dents and gave chil­dren stuffed yel­low foxes that are the mas­cot of the Copa Amer­ica.

“There are still way too many fam­i­lies living in poverty in Latin Amer­ica. It’s a tragic re­al­ity and I’ve worked through­out my life to raise aware­ness of this sit­u­a­tion,” said Pele, whose visit was or­ga­nized by Techo, a youth-led non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion and San­tander bank.

Pele said he was glad to re­turn to the An­dean coun­try where he won the World Cup in 1962 and is now look­ing for­ward to the Copa Amer­ica, which will be played in eight Chilean cities.

He de­clined to name a fa­vorite to win, but didn’t hes­i­tate to name Ar­gentina’s Lionel Messi as his pick for the best player in the world.

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