Soccer great Pele 'happy and healthy' at 80

Speaking from his home in Brazil, Pele appeared in a jovial recorded message ahead of his birthday on Friday (October 23) he looked ahead, not back.

"Now that I am 80, I need to thank God for giving me the health to get this far, and lucidly, although not always intelligently," he said with a laugh in a short video a to mark his 80th.

"I hope that when I get to heaven God welcomes me the same way that everyone welcomes me today thanks to our beloved football."

He remains the only player to win the World Cup three times and famously scored more than 1,000 professional goals.

Pele has been hospitalised several times in recent years and walks with difficulty due to an ailing hip.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of Pele's third World Cup triumph, won in Mexico in 1970 with what many pundits rate as the greatest football team of all time.

In Sao Paulo, people were seen visiting an exhibition in tribute to Pele's 80th at the Soccer Museum.