Barcelona's Eric Abidal: The True Winner of the Champions League Final in 2011

Greg LottContributor IMay 7, 2011

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 03:  FC Barcelona players toss teammate Eric Abidal up in the air after defeating Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, at the Camp Nou on May 3, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Last week, I watched in bemusement as jubilant Barcelona players formed a human trampoline to toss a beaming Eric Abidal up into the air.

I admit, in my naivete, I felt scorn; Abidal (I had thought), what has he done to deserve plaudits, he wasn’t even on the pitch for god’s sake. When I read the match reports of the game, however, I felt flat, I chastised my ignorance.

“Barcelona hoisted Eric Abidal into the air,” it said, “after his successful battle over cancer.”

I felt like the scum of the earth, here was I, just an hour previously pouring scorn on the man I deemed to be an ‘unused sub,’ when in fact this very man had beaten a debilitating illness that looked to curtail him.

Upon further reflection, though, I realised that it was not, strictly speaking, my error. Living in England, as I do, the media shroud over Abidal’s brave fight had been, apart from one or two articles back in March, absolute.

Had I not searched Abidal on a whim (I didn’t and why would I?), I don’t really know how I could have known. This is essentially the fallacy of the situation, in its preconception to pander to the co-centralised interests of the British fan base, Abidal’s plight had been all but ignored in our media sphere.

Bill Shankly once said, tongue in cheek “Football, its not a matter of life and death, its more important than that.” Eric Abidal should teach the world that there are some things that go way beyond football.

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In reality, Abidal’s absence from the game to fight the tumour that was found on his liver, only two months, was small when put into perspective against some sufferers of the disease.

Yet how can you possibly ’rank’ a disease? He had it, and through a combination of his reserve, determination, his immune system and quite possibly his athleticism he, by the grace of God, beat the disease. Eric Abidal should shine a beacon of inspiration against a mire of corruption, histrionics and foul play.

I will leave this brief, but in wanting to show my support for Abidal and those like him, I felt that I had to pen these musings. Cancer, and diseases like it, are tragically a reality of society, where its sufferers are forced to live day in day out with a vile disease that they do not know when, or even if, they can beat.

Those who triumph over these diseases therefore should be lauded, set on a pedestal to be an inspiration for the countless number of nameless individuals who are suffering a similar plight.

On the 28th of May, therefore, it doesn’t really matter if it is Barcelona or Manchester United who lift the coveted Champions League trophy. The true winner will be Eric Abidal. Some things are just more important than football.