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09.04.2013 Sports Letters

He Gave Us More Than Football—Eric Abidal

By Michael Dale-Asiedu
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In the late noon hours of Saturday, the 6th of April, 2013, when football fans all over the world watched the Barcelona versus Real Mallorca match, they not only watched one of the most captivating sides world football has ever produced with their tiki taka style play. They watched something more fascinating, exhilarating, deeper and inspiring than the usual good play often alluded to the Catalans.

They again witnessed the superb and splendid triumph of one individual. The Blaugrana sportsmen did not only dish out goals as usual on a night which saw a master class hat-trick from Cesc Fabregas. They gave us something far beyond the depths football can imagine.

Theyunequivocally presented to us a Frenchman who has made a triumphant comeback at Camp Nou after missing 14 months following a livertransplant. Barcelonadefender; Eric Abidal made a long awaited return after recovering from a liver transplant. After being named as a substitute in last month's 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo, his run-out against the vermilions(Mallorca) is his first appearance to the beautiful game since going into hiatus owing to his operation conducted in April after suffering a relapse of his liver problem as well as his first game under Tito Villanova's reign.

The 33 year old came on as a 70th minute substitute for Gerald Pique to a deafening, thunderous and rapturous atmosphere of applause, an atmosphere defeat, shame and failure will ever dread, not just from Camp Nou faithful but also the travelling Mallorca support base.

Subsequently, he pulled off his jersey after the match to reveal a shirt reading “merci” (thank you in French) in a tribute to his cousin who had donated part of his own liver and after the match the Frenchman thanked Gerard again as well as targeting a super 2013.

Abidal told Canal in an interview, 'this is special for me after a year out, thanks to my cousin and all the people I met in the hospital, they were all important. I can fight, I will always fight and I'll try to do my best, let's hope it's a great year. Without my cousin i wouldn't be here. My advice to people with the same situation is to fight hard, to be grateful to God and pray a lot'.

After 402 days out, Eric according to his own words had the guts to keep on fighting, the desire to play again, the conviction of succeeding in the beautiful game again; his audacious tenacity to paddle on even after the humongous sight of winter storms birthing uncharacteristically in spring hours is beyond description.

To me that is what winning is, that is the true mark of a winner, our ability to brace the odds and keep going even when all facts point to the contrary. Our genius lies not in never failing but rising up every time we fall, countless events and personalities in history have corroborated this, you are next in line for a rude awakening, don't give up just yet, you can give up anytime, why choose now?

Even if we are going through hell right now, we should hold our heads up high and keep on surging; perhaps we might reach the end of hell only to realize we have walked through it. Nobody said life's battles will be easy, or the duel will be a walk over, however, in times as these, when all hopes seem to be lost, when not an iota of faith is left to carry on, we should remember our God is enough and He gives His strongest battles to his bravest soldiers.

We might just be that inspiration that will spur someone somewhere on, that beacon of hope in the darkest storm of someone's life, that wing that is bound to guide someone's broken flight.

We are living witnesses to Abidal's bravery, his coach; Tito Vilanova has also triumphantly gone through treatment after the relapse of a tumor. I wish both gentlemen the very best in all their future endeavors and on this day, at this moment in time Barca has given us more than just beautiful football. To the cousin of Eric Abidal, I say “Gracias” and “Que Dieu vous benisse”, for standing in for your relative when it counted the most.

Signed and sealed From a Liverpool fan…
Michael Dale-Asiedu

Editor's Note:
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