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Éric Abidal has the heart of a warrior. This Saturday, April 6 of 2013, the French international made his return to competitive play after lengthy recovery from liver transplant surgery.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Abidal realized his dream of returning to the football pitch on the 86th minute of the FC Barcelona-RCD Mallorca match. The Frenchman came on for Gerard Piqué and he played the last 20 minutes of the game. It’s been 406 days since the player had featured in a competitive match. His last match with the team was on February 26 of 2012 against Atlético Madrid, a few days later, on the 29th of the same month, the defender featured for his country against Germany in an international friendly.

On Match 15 of 2011 a tumour was detected on the player's liver and two days later he was accepted to hospital. On the 3rd of May he made his return to competitive play in the semi-finals of the Champions League against Real Madrid. That season, Abidal lifted the European crown at Wembley after FC Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the final (3-1).

The Frenchman then suffered the terrible news that his liver needed to be replaced. He underwent liver transplant surgery on the 10th of April of 2012. That summer, he started his recovery process, and in October he participated in training regiment in the Val d’Arán. At the end of last year he started to train with the team, and in February he was given the medical all-clear to return to competitive play. In addition to his game this evening, Abidal featured in a friendly last week with Barça B against Istres.

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