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Optimistic, sincere, emotional and full of faith, on a TV3 programme called ‘La gran Marató d’Abidal’, the Barça defender has spoken about his one year and nine month battle against illness. “I have leapt over many obstacles, but there are many still to go. I have cleared them all up to now, and if there are any more then I’ll jump them as well as I can … I feel well. It is eight months since my operation. I have fought hard and continue to do so every day. It’s difficult but I’m always in a good mood and keen to return to playing”.
Abidal has been training with the squad for nine days. He now says “I am slowly training again and my target is to play again. That’s helped me. I never thought of giving up because football, and my family, are my life”. On his future he said, “It is great to feel so loved. There are people showing how much they love me here and I know I should stay here forever”.
The defender will never forget his return to action in the semi final of the Champions League 10/11. The Camp Nou welcomed him back with a standing ovation. “It gave me so much strength. I want to thank the people for everything and I will always be here to give all I can for this club”. He is also grateful to Guardiola for his support, and for letting him play at Wembley, as well as Puyol’s gesture of letting him go up to collect the cup. “I had fought hard to return and that was a very important day for me. Puyi said: ‘When you pick up the cup, it’ll feel like the world has stopped’. And he was right”.
He also appreciates what Tito Vilanova said when being presented as the new first team manager. “I knew the boss was speaking about me. It shows that the club and the squad love me and are hoping that I’ll be able to play again. I was happy that day because it was the first in a long time that I had pulled on the Barça jersey … I don’t like talking much, but without saying anything, I think he knows what I think, and I know what’s he’s thinking. I made an effort not only for myself but also for him”.
In the report, Abidal also spoke about what a humble squad he is honoured to be a member of. “Leo is the most humble man in the world. Then there’s Pinto’s smile, Valdés and his jokes, the encouragement from Puyol, Xavi’s practical jokes, the way Andrés behaves... they all have something to offer and I try to take a little bit of everyone and get better every day”.
Not an example
The player ended by saying what an amazing feeling it was to be lying in his hospital bed and hearing the Camp Nou chant his name at every match in the 22nd minute, to coincide with his shirt number. A lot of people have commented that he has become an icon for the struggle against cancer, but Abidal says that “I don’t want to be used as an example, I do what I have to do, that’s my mentality. We are lucky enough to be footballers and to represent so much for so many people. Our message when we go to visit children in hospital is one of encouragement”.
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