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Banner displayed by samba boys after defeating South Korea

Brazil’s players displayed a banner in support of Pele on the pitch as they celebrated their victory over South Korea in the last 16 of the World Cup.

The squad unfurled the banner, which featured just one word ‘Pele!’ alongside a picture of the Brazil great, in the wake of their 4-1 triumph.

Pele had earlier sent a message to his compatriots ahead of the match.

The three-time World Cup winner said on social media he would be watching the game from the hospital in Sao Paulo where he was admitted last week.

There were grave concerns over the 82-year-old’s health when news outlets in Brazil reported that he had been moved to palliative care, but an update from doctors about his treatment for colon cancer was followed by a message on Pele’s Instagram page that he was “strong” which called for calm.

Ahead of Monday evening’s last-16 tie at Stadium 974, Pele recalled memories of his World Cup debut in 1958, when the 17-year-old helped Brazil lift the Jules Rimet Trophy in Sweden.

He wrote on Twitter: “In 1958, I walked the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father. I know that today many have made similar promises and are also going in search of their first World Cup.

Injury affected Pele’s contribution to the 1962 and 1966 World Cup finals, but he returned to lead Brazil to a third triumph in Mexico in 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time.

Officially, Pele scored 757 goals in 831 games during a glittering career from 1957 to 1977, although Brazilian club side Santos claims his tally was closer to 1,000.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas, Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu