Barcelona defender Eric Abidal received messages of support from around the world on this day 10 years ago after it was revealed the defender was to have a liver transplant.
Team-mates, opposition players and fellow athletes wished Abidal the best after Barca announced the 32-year-old Frenchman would have undergo an operation in the weeks that followed, a year after having liver surgery to remove a tumour.
Carles Puyol, Barcelona captain at the time, said: “We had a meeting minutes before going on to the pitch. It was a rude awakening. Eric was at the meeting. We then talked to him, and logically that stays in the dressing room.
“We are confident that he will come out of this. We will give him all the strength we have and we will support him and his family. I am convinced that soon he will be fine.
“He is very strong, he showed that last season and will prove it again. It’s a major blow. We had the news last season and now we get it again. But this will make us even stronger.”
Abidal had been a first-team regular for the Catalan giants during the 2011/12 season, starting 20 Primera Division games, although he had not played since suffering what was described as a hip injury while on international duty with France weeks earlier.
We are confident that he will come out of this. We will give him all the strength we have and we will support him and his family. I am convinced that soon he will be fineCarles Puyol on Eric Abidal
Barca striker David Villa said: “Giving Abidal all my support! You’ll come through this! You’re very strong. We’re all by your side. We need you in the team!”
Abidal’s fellow defender Gerard Pique also backed him to come back stronger than ever, tweeting: “And you will return as always, still the best! You are an example for all!”
Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said on his Facebook account: “All the encouragement in the world to a fellow professional. It doesn’t matter the colour of the shirt that is worn, the important thing is the person. Be strong Abidal!”
Abidal had the transplant the following month then spent the next year on the sidelines, returning to action in April 2013. However, he revealed he was not offered a new contract at Barcelona and signed for Ligue 1 side Monaco a few months later.