Cancer victim first to lift Barcelona’s European Cup
Lionel Messi was the man of the moment but Barcelona’s glittering squad of stars insisted that cancer victim Eric Abidal pick up the Champions League trophy at Wembley.
Abidal played in the 3-1 win against Manchester United just months after a three hour surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his liver.
The French left-back was ushered to collect the trophy by captain Carles Puyol in an amazing show of solidarity by the Barcelona players.
Barca manager Pep Guardiola said: “He had the cancer and he and his family suffered. But he recovered and we all showed how much he mattered to the club and the players. As a coach it is a privilege to train this kind of player.
“Players are human beings. Carles Puyol’s gesture to let Abidal lift the cup was a great one and it will make us stronger. He has suffered like no other player and Carles showed his humanity in making this gesture.”
Abidal enjoyed the moment, just three months after surgery to save his life.
“When the doctors give you the news you immediately think the absolute worst. Then you wonder if you will be able ever to play football again,” said the 31-year-old Frenchman.
“I thought about how when we visit sick children in hospital we always tell them that they have to fight and I knew that message now had to apply to me.
“I see everything differently now. Being a professional footballer gives you an incredible quality of life.
“You can buy whatever you want, whenever you want, but when something like this happens to you, you realize that an expensive car, for example, cannot help you.”
Defender Daniel Alves said: “Even before all of this, we said our biggest victory, our most important trophy, was the recovery of Abi.
“We put on a spectacle for everyone who is passionate about football and who loves football. And I think that people who really like football will be very happy today because they have seen a great match.”
Argentinean superstar Messi was also humble after the game when his first-half wonder goal sent Barcelona on their way to win, his first goal on English soil as his team claimed their fourth European Cup and third in six years.
“To be the man of the match is the least important thing, because it was incredible how we played. We were very good in all areas,” said Messi.
“We’re very happy to lift another trophy. It was a difficult season but we showed who we are. We were the better team.”
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