On this day in 2012 – Barcelona announce Eric Abidal to have liver transplant

Barcelona announced that defender Eric Abidal was to undergo a liver transplant on this day 11 years ago.

The France international had liver surgery the previous year after being diagnosed with a tumour but a more serious operation proved necessary.

Barcelona’s statement on March 15, 2012 read: “Given the development of his medical condition, Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in the following weeks.

Barcelona’s Eric Abidal (right) and Manchester United’s Ji-Sung Park during a legends match
Barcelona’s Eric Abidal (right) and Manchester United’s Ji-Sung Park during a legends match (Dave Howarth/PA)

“The transplant is an option that has been considered since the beginning of his treatment, one year ago.”

Abidal only missed seven weeks following his initial surgery, returning to the team for the end-of-season run-in with a number of substitute appearances before starting the Champions League final against Manchester United, when he was given the honour of lifting the trophy.

The then 32-year-old had been a regular starter during the 2011/12 season and the news came as a shock to his team-mates when they were told prior to their training session.

Barca captain Carles Puyol said: “We had a meeting minutes before going on to the pitch. It was a rude awakening. Eric was at the meeting.

“It is him who encourages us. His attitude is an example. We are confident that he will come out of this. We will give him all the strength we have and we will support him and his family.

“I am convinced that soon he will be fine. He is very strong, he showed that last season and will prove it again.”

Abidal underwent surgery in April 2012, with his cousin Gerard being the donor. He resumed training that October and made his return to the Barcelona side in April 2013.

That summer Abidal rejoined former club Monaco before a brief spell at Olympiacos prior to announcing his retirement in December 2014.

He returned to Barcelona in 2018 as director of football but was sacked after two years.

Abidal set up a foundation in his name in 2013 to help children suffering from cancer and promote research.