SAO PAULO, Dec 8 — Brazilian football legend Pele has been hospitalised for treatment of a previously identified colon tumour, his doctors said today, the latest health problem for the 81-year-old icon.

The three-time world champion was admitted to Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo “for follow-up treatment of the colon tumour identified in September this year,” his medical team said in a statement.

“The patient is stable, and is expected to be released in the coming days.”

Pele underwent surgery for the tumour on September 4, spending a month in the hospital before being released to continue chemotherapy from home.

Considered by many the greatest footballer of all time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento — Pele’s real name — has been in poor health in recent years, and has spent various stints in the hospital.

The only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), he burst onto the global stage at just 17 with dazzling goals, including two in the final against hosts Sweden, as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time in 1958.

“O Rei” (The King) went on to have one of the most storied careers in sport, scoring more than 1,000 goals before retiring in 1977. — AFP