Éric Abidal grabbed the spotlight on Saturday night with his return to football after more than a year fighting his illness and the Liver transplant he received. Abidal insisted in thanking all the people who had helped him come through, explaining: “without my family and all the others who helped me, I would never have achieved what I did”. His cousin donated his liver to Abidal and he paid special thanks to him: “he’s the most important person. He’s never been in a hospital and he did it for me. I’m here in front of the cameras, but he’s the most important figure”.

Fighting spirit

“When they told me I had had a relapse, I had the same mentality that I did the first time, that’s to say just keep going and take this thing on, get cured and come back. Football is my life and I didn’t want to finish without playing again. I didn’t want to leave like that and I fought to come back, Abidal told the programme, claiming: “the objective was that I could finish my career playing and if I feel okay and can continue for a year or two more, then I will”.

Abidal also accepted that he could be seen as an example to follow for people in a similar situation to him and he advised them: “don’t like it get you down”.

“This is my day”

Abidal had really missed his teammates: “there more than a family and I wanted to be back with them to help out” and when Tito asked him if he was ready to play, he told him he was: “this is my day. He asked me because he’d not had the chance to see me training and didn’t know how I was doing. I just told him that I was okay to play for a few minutes”.

Abidal also recalled the message he got this summer from Tito Vilanova at the team’s presentation, when he told him: “if you are strong and want to get back, we’ll wait for you as long as we have to. Your fight is our strength” and admitted: “they were a real help to me because he made it clear that I should take my time” There was also thanks for trainer Juanjo Brau, who had told him: ”come on, you need to get it together” We need you to come back and help the team”.

Homage from Alexis

Alexis paid homage to Abidal after he’d scored his second goal, racing to the bench to give him a hug and the Frenchman explained: “I knew this would be the day for Alexis and Cesc - they deserve it after all the effort they’ve made”.

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