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‘Send a prayer to Pele’ Brazil coach urges

Brazil’s assistant coach Cesar Sampaio has asked that everyone “send a prayer” to Pele, who is currently in hospital.

Three-time World Cup winner Pele, 82, has been in hospital since Tuesday and on Saturday reassured fans that he is “strong with a lot of hope”.

The Brazil great’s statement came after a Sao Paulo newspaper reported that he is receiving end-of-life care.

Speaking at the World Cup in Qatar, Sampaio said: “Regardless of your religion we ask you to send a prayer.”  Sampaio, who played at Pele’s club Santos added: “He is a man who has influenced me not only as an athlete but as a human being.  “Even being able to talk to him was so difficult because of what he represents.”

Pele has received regular treatment since having a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021 and on Thursday said he was at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein for a “routine monthly visit”.

The hospital said on Saturday he had responded well to treatment for a respiratory infection and was “still undergoing treatment and remains stable”.

It added Pele was undergoing a “reassessment of chemotherapy treatment”.

Messages of support have been sent from across the footballing world and Brazil coach Tite shared his admiration for the former player on Sunday.  “I was shaking when I greeted him,” Tite said.

“My hands were sweating, my heartbeat increased and I thought ‘wow I’m going to have the opportunity to greet Pele’.  “It’s something all of us feel. It’s a difficult moment.”

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who is Fifa’s head of global development, described Pele as his childhood “idol”, adding: “We wish him to recover quickly.”

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