PHOTO: ARXIU FCB

This Friday will mark Éric Abidal’s fifth year at Can Barça. Exactly five years ago, the French player was presented as the newest addition to the team in the Camp Nou’s press room. With the number 22 on his jersey, the Frenchman recognized that his job was to “bring equilibrium to a very offensive-minded team and to try to help the team concede fewer goals.” In fact, Valdés won four of his five Zamora trophies with Abidal on the pitch.

Athletic success

Abidal has undoubtedly experienced the best and worts years of his life while living in Barcelona. He was a key player in the team that marveled the world. 14 titles in 4 years, including 2 Champions League titles... these are facts that speak for themselves. He had the bad luck of missing out of the Cup and the Champions League finals in 2009, but in 2011 it was the Frenchman, thanks to the captain Puyol’s gesture, that lifted the European crown in Wembley.

Unanimous support

Before the month of May in 2011, however, a tumor was found on Abidal’s liver.  Only six weeks after undergoing surgery, Abidal was back on the pitch for the Barça-Madrid semifinal. The player received the unconditional support and admiration from his teammates after the match.

Abidal’s serious illness had mobilized Barça fans and the sporting world. When news of Abidal’s tumor broke, the hashtag #animsAbidal trended worldwide on Twitter. The shows of support came from all over the world. At the Camp Nou, the Barça fans chanted Abidals name on the 22nd minute of every match.

With a smile always on his face, Abidal was back to his usual excellent form at the start of the 2011/12 season. No one could have symbolized the essence of tenacity, grit and fighting spirit better than him. He had turned into the hero of sick children. “This has changed me in a profound way. I’ve sold all of my cars, and now I’m investing in hospitals to help children,” he said a few days prior to the Wembley Final.

“We love you, we’re waiting for you”

On the 15th of March of this year, curiously 365 days after he was diagnosed with a tumor, it was announced that the Frenchman required a liver transplant. Abidal is currently recovering form the operation. Sandro Rosell, during his overview of the season this past Tuesday, spoke for all Culés when he said: “we love you and we’re waiting for you, Éric.”