SAO PAULO (AFP) - Brazil great Pele, 74, was on Thursday taken into a "special care" unit in a Sao Paulo hospital after his health worsened, three days after being admitted with a urinary infection, the hospital confirmed.
"Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) remains in hospital with clinical instability. To receive the best care he was transferred in order to be monitored in a special care unit," read a statement released by the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo.
The unit to which the three-time World Cup winner has been admitted is strictly speaking a step before intensive care and will allow him to be monitored more closely than in a regular ward.
"The patient has been transferred to a room where he will be more closely monitored, but it is not intensive care, it is an intermediate stage," a hospital spokesman explained to AFP.
After confirming that he had been taken in on Monday, the hospital had said that Pele remained in hospital with tests showing the presence of a urinary infection.
His agent Jose Fornos said that Pele was tired after receiving too many visits, and added: "Pele is receiving treatment that could go on for eight days. Thanks to God he is conscious and is talking."
Pele underwent surgery for kidney stones on Nov 13 and appeared in good humour when he was released two days later, opening his window to salute fans who had gathered around the hospital and joking to journalists: "I am ready to play tomorrow."
He had to cancel an appearance at his museum in Santos, on the coast near Sao Paulo, on Nov 12 as he began showing symptoms of the illness.
And he was also forced to miss a gathering of members of the Brazil team that won the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, who had come together to mark the 45th anniversary of Pele's 1000th career goal.
Edu, who played with Pele at Santos and in the Brazil team that won the 1970 World Cup, told the website of Globoesporte: "What we all hope is that he recovers soon, as quickly as possible, so that he can return to our group.
"It is not only us, his closest friends, who need him. Everyone does."
Two years ago, on Nov 15, 2012, he underwent a hip operation in the same hospital.
Pele, nicknamed O Rei (The King), was born in a humble home in the city of Tres Coracoes, but is considered by many as the greatest footballer in history with his exploits for Brazil and a career which saw him score 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
He scored 77 goals in 91 games for his country and won his first World Cup aged just 17, scoring twice in the 1958 final win over hosts Sweden.