Former Liverpool and Newcastle defender Jose Enrique is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumour.
The 32-year-old Spaniard, who retired last September because of a persistent knee injury, said: “It has been the toughest few weeks of my life.
“Within the space of one month I have found out the news that I have a rare brain tumour and had surgery to have it removed.
“I am now in recovery and so thankful. Life is too precious.”
Left-back Enrique made 127 appearances for Newcastle before a £6.5m move to Liverpool in August 2011.
He played 99 games for the Reds but was released in May 2016, after which he made 27 appearances for Spanish second tier side Real Zaragoza.
Enrique, who had been working as an agent since retiring, told Spanish newspaper Marca how he started to suffer headaches following a meeting with Brighton boss – and his former manager at Newcastle – Chris Hughton.
“I arrived at the hotel and thought that they were migraines,” he said.
“During the night I had a brutal headache and by the next morning my vision started to blur. Then I started to see double.”
Enrique was admitted to hospital in London for neurological tests, before returning to Spain and having the tumour removed in Valencia.
“I was told that I might stay blind, but then I regained my vision and even the doctors were surprised,” he said
Enrique said he faces 35 sessions of radiotherapy.
“There are only four machines in Europe,” he said. “My options are to go to Zurich or Paris.
“It will take about a month and a half, but that is not important. I want to get well.
“All this makes me value life more. Football players live in a bubble – it’s an unreal life. You lose yourself and think you’re invincible.”