Legendary Brazil forward Pele is reluctant to leave his house because he cannot walk unaided, his son has said.
The three-time World Cup winner, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, was taken to hospital with a urinary infection last year.
Pele, 79, has had problems with his hip for some time and now needs a frame to walk, with many of his recent public appearances in a wheelchair.
“He is very sheepish, reclusive,” his son Edinho told TV Globo.
Pele scored a world record total of 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances during his 21-year career, including 77 goals in 91 appearances for Brazil.
His health has been a concern in recent years and he had prostate surgery in 2015 after he was admitted to hospital for the second time in six months.
“Imagine, he’s the King, he was always such an imposing figure and today he can’t walk properly,” Edinho explained. “He’s embarrassed, he doesn’t want to go out, be seen, or do practically anything that involves leaving the house.
“He’s pretty fragile. He had a hip replacement and didn’t have an adequate or ideal rehabilitation. So he has this problem with mobility and that has set off a kind of depression.”
This June marks the 50th anniversary of Pele’s final World Cup title, won in Mexico with what many believe to be the greatest team of all time.
In 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Stastitics (IFFHS), and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Players of the Century award.
That same year, Pelé was elected Athlete of the Century by the Internation Olympic Committee.
According to the IFFHS, Pelé is the most successful domestic league goal-scorer in football history scoring 650 goals in 694 League matches, and in total 1,281 goals in 1,363 games, which included unofficial friendlies and is a Guinness World Record.
During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world.
Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and for Brazil at 16 and during his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups — 1958, 1962 and 1970, being the only player ever to do so.
He is the all-time leading goal scorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games.
Known for coining the phrase ‘The Beautiful Game’, Pelé’s “electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals” made him a star around the world, and his teams toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity.
Since retiring in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has made many acting and commercial ventures.
Averaging almost a goal per game throughout his career, Pelé was adept at striking the ball with either foot in addition to anticipating his opponents’ movements on the field.
While predominantly a striker, he could also drop deep and take on a playmaking role, providing assists with his vision and passing ability, and he would also use his dribbling skills to go past opponents.
In Brazil, he is hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments in football and for his outspoken support of policies that improve the social conditions of the poor.
Throughout his career and in his retirement, Pelé received several individual and team awards for his performance in the field, his record-breaking achievements, and legacy in the sport.