Soccer legend Pele left a Brazilian hospital in high spirits Tuesday, following a two-week stay due to a urinary tract infection that included an intensive care unit stint.
“I am preparing for the Olympics!” the 74-year-old reportedly joked in a news conference. “Three professionals can play in the Olympics. I’m one of the three!”
Pele is correct in one sense. Olympic men’s soccer rosters can include up to three players over the age of 23.
In 2012, Brazil added three players who wound up on its 2014 World Cup team as its over-age players — Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Hulk.
Brazil’s U23 national team coach has said Brazil’s most famous active player, Neymar, will be one of the over-age players in 2016.
Time will tell if that happens, given Brazil’s senior national team may want to use him in the special Copa America Centenario two months before the Rio Games.
Pele, the most famous athlete in Brazil’s history, never competed in the Olympics during his playing career. Still, he is thought of as a candidate to light the Olympic cauldron on Aug. 5, 2016, the Opening Ceremony of the first Olympics in South America.
Brazil’s men’s soccer team has won five World Cups, but never Olympic gold. It took silver to Mexico in 2012.