Abidal grateful after return

Eric Abidal has admitted it felt special to be given a standing ovation as he made his Barcelona comeback against Real Mallorca after a year out following liver surgery.

Last Updated: 07/04/13 at 12:02 Post Comment

Eric Abidal: Back for Barcelona a year after undergoing a liver transplant

Eric Abidal: Back for Barcelona a year after undergoing a liver transplant

The 33-year-old defender played for the first time in 402 days as he came on to replace Gerard Pique in the 70th minute of Barca's 5-0 rout on Saturday.

He underwent a liver transplant last April, having previously had surgery to remove a tumour in March 2011, and was thankful to the fans for the way they welcomed him back.

"It was a long (lay-off)," he told L'Equipe. "I really struggled. I received a lot of support through this year and this was the most important thing. From my wife, my parents, my friends, but also the fans of Barcelona too.

"Without them, I would not have returned to football. It was a unique moment. I really enjoyed these 22 minutes, as I was told I played 22 minutes.

"My goal was to return. Now it is done and I try to look a little beyond this...

"After a year of effort and hard work, the ovation is the best thing I could have had."

Abidal added that he remains a long way short of full fitness and unable at present to play 90 minutes, with an hour in a friendly against Istres the most he has managed to date.

"I hope to be part of the group until the end of the season," he added. "Whether on the bench or in the stands, it is not too important. The most important thing is to feel good and enjoy all these moments with my team-mates."

Coach Tito Vilanova was also back in the Barca dugout following two months in New York undergoing cancer treatment.

Abidal recognised the parallels between their two stories, adding: "I'm very happy because Tito is back with us and knows that players are always on hand to help."

Abidal admits he could be an example to others battling illness, saying: "I might be, but unintentionally. In life there are people who have good and bad days. I have fought for people I love. I can be an example of struggle and not getting discouraged."

Assistant coach Jordi Roura dedicated the win over Mallorca to Abidal and Vilanova.

"It was a special day," Roura said. "We were able to witness Eric Abidal's return and, after many days, Tito Vilanova once again sat on the bench at the Camp Nou.

"It was a special moment for the whole team. We know that Eric is very much loved by everyone. Personally, I'm very happy and pleased."

Extraordinary game

There was plenty to celebrate in the performance too, highlighted by Cesc Fabregas who scored a hat-trick and created two more for Alexis Sanchez.

"Cesc adapted his play perfectly to the position of a false nine," Roura added. "He played an extraordinary game. He's an additional option that we have. But I'd also like to highlight (Alex) Song's game. In fact, everyone played well."

Barca now have just a few days to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Paris St Germain following a 2-2 draw in the first leg.

However, Roura was giving little away regarding Barca's plans.

"This Saturday we opted for this pair of centre-backs (Pique and Marc Bartra)," he said. "We'll see which players we use in those positions on Wednesday against PSG. We have to talk it over with Tito. We won't obsess about what their [PSG] characteristics are.

"A three-man defence and a 'robo' (diamond) in the middle of the pitch is also an option. We have a lot of options."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

put Ince in my fantasy football team, so it's no surprise at all really. I do that to players. Also responsible for De Jong and Upson being injured. Think I'll transfer in Di Maria just to ruin United....

megabrow (cufc)
F365's Top Ten Surprise Strugglers

L

ovren? £20m always seemed a touch on the expensive side, but I wasn't expecting him to be quite such a waste of money

stevenjameshyde
F365's Top Ten Surprise Strugglers

H

alf of our players have the physical presence of a 14 year old girl. I don't know why people are always shocked that they're injured.

TheWhiz
Wenger baffled by injuries

Footer 365

Championship: Fulham owner Shahid Khan names five-man search party for new manager

Danny Murphy, Brian McBride, and Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn will help Fulham's search for their new manager.

Manchester United confirm Ander Herrera has suffered a broken rib

Manchester United have confirmed that Ander Herrera suffered a fractured rib against West Ham on Saturday.

Premier League: Arsene Wenger says Olivier Giroud's new contract is 'done deal'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says a new contract for French striker Olivier Giroud is a 'done deal'.

Mail Box

#Usingfootballersnamesineverydaylife

We have the last of these as well as mails on Liverpool, Wayne Rooney, QPR, Arsenal's injuries and more. It's a mailbox that's Alonso rather than Rafael, if you will...

How Much In 'Pounds Raheem Sterling'?

A whole lot of you use footballers' names in everyday life. And you hate yourselves for it. As you should. We also have mails on Newcastle, Rooney and more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property