Battle with brain tumour
Newcastle and Liverpool, and the prospect of going back to St James’ Park.
“Newcastle have been so supportive as a club. They have been in touch with me. Lee Charnley texted my brother, which was nice. Sometimes people don’t want to text you directly – they think they are bothering you when you’re not well.
“The club have said that whenever I am well enough, there’s an open door for me to come back. That’s really nice from the clubs I’m playing well.
“It’s something that I really want to do, to come back to St James’ Park. I know the people and as soon as I’m there people will sing at me and it will be one of the best moments of my life. I’m sure that as soon I’m OK it will be 100% one of the places that I want to go.”
Enrique’s diagnosis was a bombshell. What was he thinking when he was told he had a brain tumour?
He puffs out his cheeks. “F**king hell,” he says in the perfect English of someone who spent his best professional days in two honest, hard-working Northern cities. “It happened when I was in England because I am dedicating myself to being a football agent. My brother already has a successful agency and the idea is to bring players to the Premier League and Championship from La Liga, which works well.
“We were in a meeting with Chris Hughton – for dinner in Gaucho. We were having steaks and the lights started to go brighter for me. I was having an amazing time with my brother – the meeting went well but I said to him ‘I don’t feel right’. I was having problems with my vision.
“My brother has had problems with a migraine and said it could be that – the symptoms are the same. I had never had one so thought ‘Maybe it’s that’. The day after that I started to see double in one of my eyes. I couldn’t have both eyes open. I felt dizzy. “It was really worrying – my vision has been fine my whole life but I started to see double and the doctor knew it was serious. He told me what it was and I was shocked. “I am a healthy athlete my whole life. I have never drunk, never smoked and eaten the right food. “All my life I have done everything right but it happens to me? The most annoying thing – bigger than the operation in the first place – was that they told me ‘You may not get your vision back’. So that was very scary.” He spoke to his friend and fellow former Newcastle player Jonas Gutierrez, survived testicular who
cancer. “Of course I spoke to him about it. His was cancerous, mine was not. So mine is a tumour that they have to remove and the problem with mine was that it was next to the artery that takes all the blood to the brain.
“If they make a mistake – which can happen – and the artery starts bleeding then I die on the operating table.
“But not taking the tumour out was not an option because next to that artery are all the most important nerves so if it keeps growing I could lose my movement, my sight.
“It’s not cancerous but it can start growing and you see other symptoms and maybe then it’s too late.
“Sometimes doctors are too honest! I said ‘Don’t tell me, just do it!’.”
Although he feels tired and gets headaches, he is now back at work. On Friday, he watched three games – he’s determined to make a success of working with his brother’s agency.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. Even the bad things,” he said. “I didn’t appreciate what I had before to be honest. Even silly things like after the operation I couldn’t go to the toilet on my own. I couldn’t walk without help. When you lose something, suddenly you appreciate what it is that you have.
“It might sound mad but it has helped me in a way.
“My partner has been so supportive to me. She has been amazing. No matter how positive you are, you have your down moments and she has been there for me. She has brought me up and said ‘Keep going’. Even though it’s been bad there has been a lesson for me.”