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Loved ones gather around Pele on Christmas Eve

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — Family members visited the legendary Pele on Saturday at the Sao Paulo hospital where he is suffering from worsening cancer as well as kidney and heart problems, according to a social media post by his daughter.

Edinho, Pele’s son — who was recently appointed coach of Serie B football club Londrina, based in Parana in the north — arrived on Christmas Eve at the medical center, where he joined his sisters Flavia and Kely Nascimento.

He posted an Instagram photo of himself holding the football star’s hand, captioning it: “Father… my strength is yours.”

The ex-goalkeeper arrived a day after having explained his absence at his father’s side to local media.

“I would like to be present, but I am committed to my mission here. I’m not a doctor, I couldn’t really help much,” he said in an interview published on Friday by the daily Estadao.

That same day, Kely shared a photo of herself hugging her 82-year-old father in the hospital with the caption “one more night together.”

Late on Saturday, Kely posted a picture of Pele’s wife Marcia Aoki and other family members gathered at the Albert Einstein Hospital where he is being treated. Pele was not visible in the image.

“Almost all of us. Merry Christmas. Gratitude, love, union, family. The essence of Christmas. We thank you all for all the love and light you send us,” Kely wrote.

On Wednesday, the hospital announced that Pele’s colon cancer was showing “progression” and he needed “more extensive care to treat kidney and heart failure.”

Earlier that day, his daughters had announced he would not be home for Christmas.

The atmosphere was calm outside of the hospital on Saturday, according to AFP.

Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time and has received several messages of support since his hospitalization, including from the French star Kylian Mbappe, who called on followers to “pray for the King.”

Pele was hospitalized in Sao Paulo on 29 November for what his medical team called a re-evaluation of his chemotherapy treatments, which he has been receiving since having surgery to remove a colon tumor in September 2021.

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