Atlético Madrid midfielder’s comeback from brain cancer and mother’s paralysis
Catalan player, who was diagnosed three years ago with ‘primary’ brain cancer, will join Madrid for the final game of the season
The football world has rallied around Lassana Diarra, who is overcoming a life-threatening illness to play for his former club, Real Sociedad, at the Estadio Vicente Calderón on Sunday, one year after being diagnosed with primary (untreated) brain cancer.
The 26-year-old, who has a host of other non-footballing, non-soccer-related issues in his life, will make his return to football this weekend, when he hopes to help his new club secure a historic sixth European Cup in seven seasons.
The cancer diagnosis came when he was 14, leading to months of treatment as he battled the issue.
He was diagnosed with ependymoma, a rare form of tumour in the brain, in 2012. When it was found, the youngster needed extensive radiotherapy and surgery to remove the tumour, but doctors soon discovered that the cancer was inoperable.
This left him left with a life expectancy of around 30 years.
However, during his battle with the cancer, Lassana, who was to be known as Lassana Diarra, played for the Spain Under-16s, where he had a hand in three goals in a four-goal game against Germany.
He later moved to Real Sociedad and started out with the youth team, before making his professional debut in 2014.
This season, Real Madrid managed to get past Sevilla at the Bernabeu in a Champions League game, and then went on to upset Barcelona in the league in a game that will live long in the memory.
The game has a significance that goes well beyond the club itself.
The victory secured Madrid’s place in the Champions League knockout stages for a sixth consecutive season and allowed them to top Group K, ahead of Barcelona