AS Monaco defender Eric Abidal has put paid to vicious rumours regarding the state of his health.
Reports of a third bout of cancer for the Frenchman began to circulate on Twitter during Friday morning:
Sad news today, Eric Abidal has announced his retirement from Footbal after getting cancer for third time. Good luck with your fight Eric— FootieTip.com (@FootieTips) March 28, 2014
It underlined not only the reach and power of social media, but also the dangers, as Abidal himself was forced to clarify the situation via his own official Twitter account:
Good morning, rumors in Twitter are not true. Training in La Turbie thinking about next match. Daghe Munegu @ASMFC_MONACO— Eric Abidal (@EAbidalOfficial) March 28, 2014
The news that, in fact, the original tweets were nothing but vile rumours saw a backlash on the site:
These sickening rumours must stop! Eric Abidal is well, isn't retiring and most importantly doesn't have cancer for the 3rd time.— Transfer Related (@TransferRelated) March 28, 2014
who would come up with a sick rumor that Eric Abidal has cancer again and has to retire, all lies, disgusting!— James Brady (@jamessbradyy) March 28, 2014
Given the nature of the original tweets, one would have to question the motives of those posting the same. Akin to online "Chinese whispers," if something is repeated often enough, people begin to believe its validity.
Fortunately, Abidal remains in good health and completed a full 90 minutes for Monaco on Wednesday night in their 6-0 thumping of Lens.
The 34-year-old remains the consummate professional and an example to any youngster aspiring to a career in the game.
Abidal's dedication to looking after himself in a physical sense has no doubt helped him during his two previous fights against the debilitating disease.
And his popularity in the dressing room led to Barcelona team-mate Dani Alves offering to donate part of his liver to Abidal back in 2012.
Per an interview with Radio Catalunya via BBC Sport, Abidal noted:
When I had to undergo surgery, Dani wanted to donate his liver. Logically, he couldn't because he is a professional footballer
The story with Dani goes beyond the jersey. He knows it. Me too. We are friends and we talk about everything. He wanted to support me.
And besides, he's a very good person. He was my neighbour and his ex-wife and my wife are friends.
If any more proof were required of just how well liked Abidal is, the video of him leaving Barcelona provides it:
But perhaps the most iconic moment of his career was when he was afforded the opportunity to lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley in 2011, when Carles Puyol handed him the armband as a tribute to his first successful fight against the disease:
Xavi Hernandez noted at the time just what it is about the Frenchman that endears him to all, via the Daily Mail:
He has shown he is an example to all humanity.
For everything he represents - his values, his competitiveness, his recovery, his involvement, and overcoming [the illness] and wanting to be back. You wouldn't have thought he had even had an operation.
[...] He's an example for so many people. He transmitted such calm. We were more anxious than he was. His return is great news.
The news that recent rumours of a setback are just that will be met with widespread relief from everyone connected with the game.
Abidal remains committed and ready to lead his Monaco side for the remainder of this season, and don't rule out an appearance for France at the World Cup.