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Young footballers have been urged to shed any notions of invincibility and submit to regular health checks in order to swiftly diagnose and combat any serious concerns.
Former Luton and England striker Mick Harford is backing the latest ‘Movember’ campaign to tackle prostate cancer, having been diagnosed with the disease in July this year.
The 62-year-old acknowledged visiting a GP is often the last thing on the minds of players who are kicking off their careers, intent on putting any lingering doubts to the back of their mind.
Harford told the PA news agency: “You do feel invincible, but we know deep down that as top-level sportsmen we are very vulnerable as well.
“I’ve got friends like John Hartson who never went to hospital. You know what football players are like, they think they can stay away from the doctors and everything will be fine.
“I wasn’t one of those who was afraid of the doctor or the surgeon but I can totally understand why men don’t go to the doctors. But the sooner you know, the better the outcome will be for you.”
Harford, who finished his latest round of radiotherapy this week, will have his next scan in the new year and is currently performing his role as Luton’s chief recruitment officer effectively on a part-time basis.
Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma last month, while Norwich goalkeeper Dan Barden has been diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Harford added: “The last thing you want to see is a young player in the prime of his life being knocked down with cancer.
“Hopefully they will be back as soon as possible on the pitch. Cancer doesn’t spare anyone, so we’ve got to be vigilant about it and look after ourselves.
“We have to make sure we give as much information to players and people worldwide – the symptoms of certain cancers, especially prostate cancer – and the more we are aware, through schemes like ‘Movember’, hopefully things will improve.”
:: Mick Harford supports Movember in line with their work focusing on prostate cancer. Donate at Movember.com to help change the face of men’s health.