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Sunday, 24 August 2014, 16:00

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Miraculous return

Guillem Balague hailed Eric Abidal's return to top-level football following cancer and a resulting liver transplant as "completely unique".

Last Updated: 10/04/13 at 09:17 Post Comment

The 33-year-old made an emotional comeback in Barcelona's 5-0 win over Mallorca on Saturday, almost a year after undergoing a liver transplant following a recurrence of cancer.

Cesc Fabregas scored a hat-trick in the match but it was the Frenchman's return - a week after boss Tito Vilanova returned to the Barca bench after he himself had three months of cancer treatment - that overshadowed the result.

"What we have seen is completely unique, medically unique," he told Revista. "When you have to have an operation like that there is a 90 per cent chance of you recovering but never, ever has been a case where you can continue among the elite."

Unbelievable

Fellow Revista guest Gerry Armstrong was similarly astounded by Abidal's return to the top of the game after a 14-month ordeal.

"It is from another planet," he said. "That is what we are looking at. This guy's stature is so high. As Guillem said, he has not just comeback to be living a normal life or as near a normal life as possible, he has come back to play at the highest level in football.

"It is just incomprehensible for me. It is just unbelievable."

The former French international - who dedicated his return on Saturday to his cousin, Gerard, who donated part of his liver for the transplant - is contracted to the club until the end of the season.

And while Balague is certain he will be offered a new deal, he believes the defender could decide to take up an ambassadorial role rather than continue playing at the Camp Nou.

Ambassador

"We still don't know if he will be a professional for a long time, we don't know if he will continue at Barcelona even though Barcelona will offer him a new contract," he said.

"It is up to him to reject it if he feels he is not up to this level, although he still wants to play for another one or two years."

Balague added: "He will be honest to Barcelona and if he doesn't feel he is up for it he will not renew the contract.

"I think the feeling will probably be that the contract will be offered, he will probably say no and he will move back to France to be closer to his family.

"But he is going to get an ambassadorial role with Barcelona in the near future and that is something he will embrace."

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