Cancer-hit footballer: Newcastle United froze me out
Former Newcastle United star Jonas Gutierrez has claimed he was "frozen out" of the first team by the club hierarchy - which he believes saw him as a liability after his cancer diagnosis.
In a statement to an employment tribunal which is hearing his claim for disability discrimination, the 32-year-old star also accused Newcastle of ensuring he did not make enough appearances to trigger a one-year contract extension.
Gutierrez, currently playing for Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, spent seven seasons with Newcastle after joining in 2008, and had an operation to remove a tumour in his left testicle in October 2013.
The midfielder said he was called into then manager Alan Pardew's office in early December 2013 - when he felt he was returning to full fitness - to be told that he did not feature in Newcastle's plans and was free to agree terms with another club.
Gutierrez said: "I was very shocked by the club's sudden change of heart about me, particularly as I had played in 194 games for the club at this point and was one of the key first team players."
Gutierrez, who earned around £40,000-a-week with Newcastle, is reported to be seeking a payment of around £2m after missing out on an "automatic" 12-month extension to a four-year contract, which would have kicked in if he had started 80 games between 2011 and 2015.
The player, who in fact made 78 starts and five appearances as a substitute, said in his statement: "It is notable that during my chemotherapy treatment neither the manager Alan Pardew nor any club directors contacted me to see how I was feeling or to congratulate me on my recovery."