Just 71 days after an operation to remove a tumor on his liver, Barcelona's Eric Abidal is fit enough to play in Saturday's Champions League final against Manchester United. Ian Chadband describes how the French defender broke the news of his impending surgery to teammates:
As Abidal gave his quiet, calm address at the training ground, the shock coursed through his pals. The place fell silent. "It was simply the worst moment I’ve experienced in any locker room,” recalls Barca midfielder Xavi. "Yet as he told us, Eric was just like he always is, positive, giving us all encouragement."
In fact, Abidal feared he would never play again. It was only when in the operating room when he heard his surgeon's soothing words — "Don’t worry, I’ll see you at Wembley on May 28" -- that he could really feel this was a battle he was going to win. It was time for him to remember he was one of life’s fighters, that kid who survived all life’s trials, including knife-wielding assailants, when growing up in a tough suburb of Lyon.
Recovering in hospital, he saw kids who were fighting for their lives. “And I learned a lot from them. They gave me strength.” He is selling his collection of sports cars because “when something happens to you as happened to me, then these cars are useless ... it’s better to sell them and give money to associations and hospitals, use it to help children."