Brazil head coach Tite recalled how he was “shaking” when he first met Pele, as he wished the three-time World Cup winner good health.
Pele was hospitalised on Tuesday, though his daughter said a day later there was “no surprise or emergency” pertaining to his condition, with Pele also describing it as a “monthly visit”.
It was later reported, though not officially confirmed, that the 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care as he was no longer responding to chemotherapy treatment.
The hospital treating Brazil’s record scorer described his condition as “stable”, while Pele issued a statement to say he remained “strong, with a lot of hope”.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Selecao’s World Cup round-of-16 tie against South Korea, Tite shared a memory of meeting Pele for the first time.
“He’s probably the only person where I was shaking when I greeted him,” he said.
“Speaking from the bottom of my heart, it was a very emotional moment for me… I didn’t even know what was going on… Someone said, ‘go and hug Pele’.
“I stopped, started shaking, hands sweating, heartbeat racing. I said, ‘wow, I’m going to have opportunity to greet Pele.’ He is the person who represents the human aspect.
“Health, Pele, health. That’s all I can give you. It’s a difficult moment.”
Pray for the King @Pele
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) December 3, 2022
The Santos great underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.
Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Vinicius Junior are among those to have sent messages of support from the World Cup in Qatar, while former Brazil international and Tite’s assistant, Cesar Sampaio, also added his well-wishes.
Sampaio – who began his career at Santos, albeit several years after Pele had retired – recalled having the opportunity to play with him.
“I also had the blessing of meeting Pele,” he said. “When I was at Santos, I had the chance to play with him, it was something even more than what Tite said, to be able to be with him on the pitch was so difficult because of what he represents.
“Regardless of your religion, we ask you please send him a prayer and positive vibes. He influenced my development as a man and a human being.”
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