Barcelona midfielder Xavi has said team-mate Eric Abidal is an “example to humanity” following his rapid recovery from cancer.
Abidal was in fine form earlier this season but was laid low in March when a tumour was detected in his liver.
The France full-back was forced to have surgery to remove the tumour and has made a sensational recovery to start Barcelona's last two league matches.
Xavi says he has been amazed by his team-mate's rapid return to action ahead of this Saturday's Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley.
“He has shown he is an example to all humanity,” Xavi said.
“For everything he represents — his values, his competitiveness, his recovery, his involvement, and overcoming [the illness] and wanting to be back. You wouldn't have thought he had even had an operation.”
Xavi praised Abidal's handling of his illness, saying: “I haven't lived a situation as bad as that — it was a question of life or death.
“Now he is back and he's just as strong as he was before the operation — it's amazing.
“He's an example for so many people. He transmitted such calm. We were more anxious than he was. His return is great news.”
Abidal was suspended for the 2009 Champions League final against United - which Barca won 2-0 in Rome to complete a famous treble — and Xavi says the Frenchman is determined to feature this time around.
“He is training well, he is looking strong and he is excited,” he said.
“He missed the final last time and the (Copa del Rey) final last month, so he has that thorn in his side.”
Abidal, meanwhile, admits he feels ready to start at Wembley.
“I have played from the start in the last two matches and I felt good,” he said.
“I was two months without playing, but I worked hard to return and I am happy to be part of the group,” he said.
“It will be a special final.”