Éric Sylvain Abidal or our beloved Abi , who rarely faces any problems on the pitch , has been going through some tough times off it. The defender was diagnosed with cancer last year and fought it like a determined soldier who knows he is surrounded, but still chooses to fight instead of surrendering, and he won. He was back on the pitch within 45 days, played the entire 90 minutes of the Champions League final, and lifted the trophy which made us all feel proud.
Well, we all thought that it was over. The injured soldier has rejoined the troops. But sadly, unfortunately, whatever you wish to name it exactly one year after he was diagnosed with cancer, there was news that he needed a liver transplant. It was shocking for us, but he knew this a very long time ago. Still he gave his 100% on the pitch, without giving anyone a hint of his problem. He has been one of our best defenders this season.
Within four years of joining the club, he has reserved a small place in our heart. It is very difficult to digest what he is going through. People talk about the defensive problems we are facing this year. Put your thinking caps on people, and race back to last year. We did not have Puyol and Mascherano was not yet a regular starter. Though it was not such a big issue, we had more defensive problems last year than this year. Abi filled in for Puyol moving from his left back role to a central defensive role. Many raised the question of how a player can change his role and fit in successfully for a stretch of games. It was argued that Pep should have purchased a defender during the summer. Well, in Inder's words, BAH HUMBUG. If a player is a quality footballer he does need time to adjust. And it was true. Abi was our strongest defender that year.
Last year when I came to know about his cancer, a small part of me lost hope of him playing football again. Not that it mattered, he is more important as a person than a footballer. And this year again I have a similar feeling again. This time I know he will come back on the pitch, but deep inside I have double thoughts on that. His life and family are more important than anything else. He has enjoyed 30 years of great football, and I will be very pleased if he is back on the pitch. But I want him to enjoy a happy and healthy life. Get well soon Abi, we all love you and are with you. #AnimoAbi!