SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazilian football legend Pele, 80, was briefly transferred back to an intensive care unit Friday after suffering breathing difficulties but is now stable, said the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where he underwent surgery earlier this month.
The transfer was a temporary "preventative measure," the hospital said in a statement, adding that the sporting great was later transferred to "semi-intensive care" as he continues to recover from surgery for a suspected colon tumour.
"He is currently stable from a cardiovascular and respiratory point of view," it added.
Shortly afterwards, the ex-footballer posted a message on social media stating: "Friends, I am still recovering very well. Today I received visits from family and I am still smiling every day."
Pele's daughter Kely Nascimento also posted a photo of herself next to her father in the hospital, seeking to cheer up his fans.
"This is the normal recovery scenario for a man his age. After an operation like this, sometimes you take two steps forward, one step back," Nascimento wrote on Instagram next to the photo.
"Yesterday he was tired and he took a step back. Today, he has taken two steps forward," she added.
In the photo, Pele is seen on what looks like a hospital bed in a black puff vest or jacket, alert and smiling.
"He is recovering well, under normal conditions, I promise!" Nascimento added. "There is a lot of angst in the world these days and we don't want to add to it."
On September 6 the hospital said Pele had undergone surgery for a suspected colon tumor.
He originally left the ICU unit on Tuesday, telling his fans on social media that he was feeling happier by the day and was looking forward to reuniting with them.
The suspected tumor was detected during routine tests, according to the hospital, where Pele has been undergoing treatment since August 31.
Considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time, Pele, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, has been in poor health in recent years, and has had various stints in the hospital.
The only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), Pele 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.
Four years later, Pele gave a tantalizing glimpse of his ability with an electric individual goal against Mexico in Brazil's opening 2-0 win.
"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.