Ex-Toon star reveals
‘IT HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE’
Jose Enrique with girlfriend Amy Jaine Regional football editor AT one point in his life, Jose Enrique couldn’t wait to get away from St James’ Park.
But in the dark moments that followed his diagnosis with a rare brain tumour, it has been the thought of returning to Newcastle United, rid of the cancer that nearly robbed him of his sight and could have proved fatal, that has sustained him.
“My life has been turned upside down,” Enrique admits, cataloguing a shuddering list of things he has experienced since his “nightmare” diagnosis in May. These are things no fit 32-year-old expects to have to go through – such as being told you are just a nick of a surgeon’s knife away from dying on the operating table. Or that the sight in one of your eyes – which has been suffocated by the tumour that has been growing inside your brain for years – might never come back. Or even that you won’t be able to go to the toilet unaided. “It has been a nightmare. But you know what? It has taught me a lot as well. It makes you think about things and one of the things I want to say is that I was so touched by the Newcastle fans messaging me when they heard about what happened to me.”
Enrique left under a cloud, impetuously sending a Twitter message deriding the club and paving the way for a move to Liverpool. Newcastle fans felt betrayed, and let him know as much when he returned. “I know how it was when I left. I know how it ended at Newcastle and it is one of my biggest regrets in football,” he says.
“I was so young and what I said I said because I was angry. I said they would not finish in the top six – then the next year they finished fifth! I was very happy at Newcastle. It was one of the best moments of my life. Newcastle was my start in England and was and is a massive club. I wanted the club to do well but all around me I could see that they weren’t doing the right things.
“Sometimes you say things you shouldn’t. The fans were amazing with me – they sang home and away, they supported us through everything and I’ll always be grateful to them.
“They have sent me some lovely messages, through Twitter and Instagram of course. Getting that many people’s support and messages is amazing.”
It is that love – from his partner Amy, from fans of the clubs that he has played at – that will get him through his next dark days.
Although the operation to remove the tumour was a success, he now faces 41 sessions of radiotherapy over three months. He will move to Paris for three months for the treatment; spending Christmas away from his home in Valencia. He will celebrate Christmas while undergoing treatment, in the dark.
It is, he knows, the only way that the tumour can be killed.
“It isn’t something I am looking forward to. Throughout this whole thing I have learned to live in the moment,” he said. “The most scary thing for me is the radiotherapy – it’s not nice, it is scary but a lot of people have to do it. It’s just another thing I have to do to get better.
“When you go in for radiotherapy, you put on a mask and it is completely dark. I hate the idea of this moment. You are not allowed to move, it’s dark. You are on your own. If you move you can really damage something else. When the doctor told me that I would have to do this it was the thing that almost scared me the most.”
So, he says, he will think about how lucky he has been in his life. He will think about