Cancelling Cancer: Five footballers Sebastian Haller can draw inspiration from
- Ivory Coast striker Sebastian Haller was diagnosed with testicular cancer on Monday
- He moved to Borussia Dortmund from Ajax only a couple of weeks ago
- We look back at five footballers who made successful recoveries from cancer
Sebastian Haller was diagnosed with testicular cancer a couple of weeks after moving to Borussia Dortmund on a €31 million transfer. Snapped up by the German giants after an eye-catching season with Ajax, The Ivory Coast striker would take over from Erling Haaland as Dortmund's goal-getter-in-chief. Feeling unwell during training on Monday morning, he flew back to Dortmund from their training camp in Switzerland's Bad Ragaz. Initial medical tests revealed a tumour in the testicles. With further examinations due in the coming days, the 28-year-old has put his mind to making a full recovery. Taking to Twitter, the attacker promised to "come back stronger".
As debilitating as cancer is, Haller will draw inspiration from the many footballers who've recovered from the illness and continued to play professionally. It's not likely that the towering forward will be reading our humble blog, but in case he does (and even if he doesn't), here are five names to spur him on during treatment.
#1. Eric Abidal
In March 2011, the then-Barcelona defender was diagnosed with liver cancer. Initially making a recovery, he would play the full 90 minutes in the Catalan side's Champions League final triumph in May at Wembley. In a touching gesture, Blaugrana captain Carlos Puyol handed him the armband to receive the famous trophy on the club's behalf. In March 2012, he had to undergo a liver transplant after suffering a relapse. Teammate Dani Alves offered to donate a part of his liver, but Abidal refused the offer since it would affect his football career. But his brother Gerard came through.
Making a full recovery after the surgery, he got the go-ahead to resume training in December 2012. In April 2013, he returned to competitive football, playing the final 20 minutes of a 5-0 home win against RCD Mallorca.
#2. Arjen Robben
In a similar turn of events to Seb Haller, Robben was diagnosed with testicular cancer soon after switching to Chelsea from Dutch side PSV in 2004. His worst fears came true when doctors confirmed the lump on his left testicle was cancer. Then only 20, the mazy winger would successfully undergo an operation, returning to full fitness soon after. In the years to come, the Dutchman became a fearsome presence on the pitch, striking an enviable combination with Frenchman Franck Ribery while at Bayern. A Champions League winner with the Bavarian giants, Robben was the star-turn at Wembley, stealing in to score a late winner against rivals Dortmund.
#3. Jonas Gutierrez
Newcastle cult hero Argentine Jonas Gutierrez was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the end of the 2012/13 season. Undergoing surgery in his native Argentina in October 2013, the midfielder- also knowns as Spiderman and 'El Galgo' (greyhound in Spanish)- made his return soon after. Finding opportunities limited at St. James' Park, he secured a loan move to Norwich City. But he returned to Tyneside in February 2015, famously securing the club's top-flight status on the season's final day. Registering an assist and a goal in their 2-0 win against West Ham at home, the Toon Army has perhaps never stopped singing his name since.
#4. Carlos Roa
The eccentric Argentine keeper- better known for fleeing to a secluded retreat in Cordoba fearing the apocalypse at the turn of the Millenium- recovered from testicular cancer (and malaria) whilst also having the gall to turn down Manchester United at the peak of his powers. But for all his doggedness, he was still helpless in the face of a Denis Bergkamp half-volley winner in the 1998 World Cup quarters.
#5. German Burgos
Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper from the early 2000s, the Argentine German Burgos, would recover from kidney cancer in 2003. Presently manager of Greek club Aris, he was part of Diego Simeone's coaching staff at the Colcheneros. Best remembered for his stellar show in a Madrid derby from the 2002-03 season- saving a Luis Figo penalty with his nose in a 2-2 draw-Burgos required surgery on his left kidney to remove a malignant tumour.