Soccer legend Pele is using a metal-framed walker to get around these days, which his agent compares to having a new piece of “sporting equipment.”
“He is calling this his new soccer shoes with wheels,” his agent, Jose Fornos, told The Associated Press on Friday.
A widely circulated newspaper photograph on Friday of the 76-year-old Pele using a walker was getting lots of attention in Brazil.
Fornos said Pele has used the walker regularly – or a cane – since he had hip surgery almost a year ago. The surgery was to correct the displacement of part of a right hip prosthesis done in 2012.
He also underwent back surgery in 2015 for what was described as a “nerve root decompression.”
The three-time World Cup winner has also been hospitalized in the last several years for a urinary infection and prostate surgery.
Fornos said Pele’s left knee is now the problem. The right knee is also reported to be problematic, and of course the right leg and hip.
“Everybody is worried about this. But that’s life,” Fornos said. “For him it’s not good, but you have to become accustomed to these things.”
Pele also pulled out of the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over three months ago for what he said were unspecified “health reasons.” Fornos repeatedly made light of the Pele’s physical condition.
“We hope in the next few months he is ready to play,” Fornos said. “Now he’s on the bench.”
In an interview published Friday with the Sao Paulo newspaper O Estado De S.Paulo, Pele described his health as “very good.”
Pele is widely regarded as the game’s greatest player and played on Brazil World Cup winners in 1958, 1962 and 1970.