Bat­tle with brain tu­mour

Sunday Sun - - News -

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.”

Jose En­rique

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