Soccer icon Pele was discharged from a hospital here in Brazil's largest city on Thursday five days after undergoing hip surgery.

The 72-year-old Edson Arantes do Nascimento emerged from Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Hospital to tell reporters, with tears in his eyes, that he "did not imagine" the Brazilian people would be so concerned about him.

Surgeons performed an arthroplasty procedure on Pele's right hip last weekend.

The operation prevented Pele from traveling to New Jersey to deliver the honorary kickoff for the Brazilian national team's friendly match Wednesday against Colombia, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Pele led Brazil to three of its record five World Cup titles. EFE