Brazil legend Pele collapses with severe exhaustion, misses London trip

Pele will be unable to attend a London tribute dinner in his honour on Sunday after he collapsed in Brazil with severe exhaustion.

The Football Writers' Association said in a statement that the three-time World Cup winner with Brazil, now aged 77, would not be able to come to the event.

A spokesman for Pele, however, denied the football great had been taken to a hospital, as was first reported by the FWA.

"I have no idea who made up that news. He went to Rio de Janeiro and back [from Sao Paulo] this week by car and the trip was very stressful. It is an exhausting trip. He didn't feel sick, he is at his home, undergoing physical therapy," Jose "Pepito" Fornos Rodrigues, a longtime Pele spokesman, told ESPN. "To travel back and forth to London would have been even more exhausting. So that is normal [the cancellation of trip]."

An initial statement from the FWA said: "In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion. He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.''

"Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion and everybody at the Football Writers' Association wishes Pele a swift and full recovery.

"Understandably, his medical situation prevents him from travelling to London for the Football Writers' Association Tribute Night on Sunday evening at The Savoy. But after discussions with Pele and his team, he has insisted the event should continue, not least because many of Pele's friends are travelling from overseas to be with us on Sunday.

"While it is incredibly sad Pele cannot attend the function, the FWA are grateful that all those who have been asked to pay tribute on the night -- Gareth Southgate, Cliff Jones, Gordon Banks and Steve Hunt -- are determined to help make the evening a memorable one.

"Pele's team have also asked that we film the event and send a copy to Brazil in the knowledge it will lift the great man's spirits to see his friends are thinking of him and sending their best wishes. With that in mind, we want to do Pele proud and make Sunday night as memorable as possible.

"It goes without saying, Pele has an open invitation to any of our functions once he regains his health and we are already discussing the possibility of him joining us in May for the Footballer of the Year dinner.''