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5 footballers who beat cancer 

Carling Cup: Manchester United v Barnet
Former Man United player Liam Miller was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment
anand muralidharan

Recently, ex-Manchester United and Celtic footballer, Liam Miller was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment in the United States.

Fans from around the world rallied in support of the player and wished him a speedy recovery, including the likes of Joe Thompon, John Hartson, José María Buljubasich and Germán Burgos to name a few football personalities, who have all also beaten various forms of the deadly disease.

Here we look at the 5 more players who battled various forms of the terrible disease, cancer, beat the disease and return to the game of football:


#5 Eric Abidal

FC Barcelona v Malaga CF - La Liga
FC Barcelona celebrate Abidal's road to recovery

Eric Abidal embodies the word 'fighter'. The former French defender, one of the most highly rated fullbacks to come out of France in the last decade was diagnosed with liver cancer in March 2011 and had to undergo an array of treatments to regain match fitness.

Later that season, Barcelona went on to beat Manchester United at Wembley in the final and as a lovely gesture to mark his recovery, Carles Puyol passed on the trophy to Abidal, who lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy after a tumultuous couple of years.

Abidal's fight for recovery was a long, arduous process that involved a liver transplant after the failure of the first operation. After which, the player stepped back out onto the field to continue his career.

While Abidal sat out the start of the next campaign still continuing his recovery, his Barcelona career was coming to an end, with the club not offering the player an extension. In 2013, Abidal signed for Monaco and quickly won back his place at the heart of the defence in Didier Deschamps’ French side before retiring.

#4 Jose Molina

Villarreal CF v Valencia CF  - Liga BBVA
Former Spanish goalkeeper and ATK manager Jose Molina

Former Spanish goalkeeper Jose Molina began his career with Valencia in 1993 and has over 400 appearances in the La Liga. He also enjoyed long spells at Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna. During his time with Deportivo in 2002, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and missed the entire season recovering from the disease.

Molina was clear of the disease and free to continue his footballing career and played on for four more seasons before retiring in 2007. Molina was part of the Spanish national team squad for two European Championships and the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

The Spaniard was appointed the manager of Villareal for a season in 2011, after working his way up the ranks through the youth teams. Jose Molina continued his journey in football and managed Hong Kong team Kitchee before he managed Atletico de Kolkata in the ISL in 2016.

#3 Alan Stubbs

Rangers v Hibernian - William Hill Scottish Cup Final
Stubbs lifts the William Hill Scottish Cup trophy for Hibernian after beating Rangers in the final

Former Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Everton and Sunderland midfielder, Alan Stubbs began his professional career in 1990. After six seasons at Bolton that involved two promotions to the top-flight of English football, Stubbs joined Celtic and in 2001, was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Stubbs won numerous honours at Celtic including the league and the domestic cup. The disease was discovered when the player was subject to a random drug test. After undergoing operations and battling the disease, the Englishman returned to football with Everton the following season.

After six years at Everton over two spells, followed by a year each at Sunderland and Derby County, Stubbs retired from the game. In 2014, he was offered the managerial post at Hibernian and guided the club to a Scottish Cup in the 15/16 season. Clearly, Alan Stubbs is a football legend.

#2 Stiliyan Petrov

Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa - Premier League
Petrov during his days at Aston Villa

Former Bulgarian international and Premier League footballer, Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2013 and immediately called an end to his career. At the time, the central midfielder was Aston Villa's captain and driving force in the middle of the park.

Petrov was a hard-tackling, lovely distributor of the ball and made things look easy in the game. After his diagnosis, the player vowed to return to football after battling the disease and did so in 2016, with Villa as he did secure a return to the first team.

However, the short stint back in the game was not just done yet, as Petrov successfully transitioned into a coaching role at the club that lasted a year. The Bulgarian setup a leukaemia foundation called the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation to help people who suffer from the disease, during his time spent in recovery from cancer.

#1 Jonas Gutierrez

Newcastle United v West Ham United - Premier League
Gutierrez celebrates his goal, his return from cancer and Newcastle United's status in the PL

Former Argentine international, Jonas Gutierrez was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 2013 during his time with Newcastle United.

The Argentine had initially kept his situation concealed, until an interview with an Argentine media outlet revealed he was diagnosed with the disease and had a testicle removed. Gutierrez in the interview revealed that he only wished to be alive, let alone play football again during his rehabilitation period with the disease.

However, 34-year old Gutierrez showed guts and tremendous heart to not only make a full recovery from the disease but also make it back to professional football by March 2014. The Argentine made 22 appearances for his country and retired from international football in 2011.

The hard-working winger was a part of the squad that won promotion back to the Premier League with the club, in 2010. In what was almost a fairytale story-like ending, Gutierrez helped the club with an assist and a goal that steered Newcastle from the drop.

Notably, the former Newcastle player still plays professional football for Independiente in the Primera Division in Argentina.

Edited by Aakanksh Sanketh

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