Belfast Telegraph

Gutierrez longs for comeback

Jonas Gutierrez admits a return to first-team football with Newcastle after overcoming cancer would trump all his other achievements in the game.

The 31-year-old winger was diagnosed with testicular cancer 15 months ago but, having made a full recovery and featured on several occasions for Newcastle's under-21 team, he is dreaming of a day he thought he would never come - a return to St James' Park.

And if that happens, the feeling would surpass even his selection for the 2010 World Cup, where he made three appearances for Argentina under coach Diego Maradona.

"I have played in a World Cup but if I play again for Newcastle then that will be the best moment of my career," Gutierrez told multiple national newspapers.

"To get back after the cancer and chemotherapy, to put all that behind me, would be a huge moment. I feel really good. Maybe in two weeks I will be at 100 per cent."

Gutierrez has spent seven years in Newcastle since signing from Real Mallorca and said: "The welcome from the fans from the day I arrived has been special. So if I come back and play for Newcastle then, of course, it will be the best. It will be emotional.

"I haven't been to the stadium. It is hard to go and not be involved. For now, I prefer to watch on TV at home. But, of course, I want to return to the first team."

It will be a different-looking Gutierrez who bids to return, absent his trademark ponytail, though his hair and beard have grown back well after falling out as a side-effect of chemotherapy - adding to an already hard emotional battle.

"When I was told about the cancer I went home to my dad and cried," he said. "Then it was hard to find my hair falling out.

"But I was always positive and I told my family and friends, 'Listen, the most important thing is to be healthy again'. Fighting cancer made other problems seem insignificant."

There could be one visual quirk to recall the old days, though, as Gutierrez - who scored from 20 yards in his last under-21 outing against Bolton - is considering revisiting his favourite goal celebration should the chance arise.

The Argentinian was noted for pulling on a Spiderman mask after finding the net and he said: "I don't have it any more - but maybe I will buy another one!"

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