In an honest and open interview, given to French television channel Canal +, Magpies midfielder Jona Gutierrez speaks as never before about the traumatic last two years of his life.
It was clear from the begining that Gutierrez had all the time in the world for the Newcastle United fans “The Toon Army”, who have rallied around him since the moment it was revealed he had cancer.
Ita s a remarkable story and, in his own words, the 31-year-old details everything that has happened to him.
The Midfielder began the interview by explaining how he felt something for the first time in a match against Arsenal.
He said: a It was exactly the last game of the 2013 season. I had a clash with Bacary Sagna, the Arsenal defender.
a From then on I started having pain in a testicle. The doctor said he couldna t see anything wrong, that he could see everything was normal but if I continued to experience discomfort then I should tell him.
a I then went away on holiday, we had a month off work, and the pain persisted. When I returned from my holiday I mentioned to the doctor that the pain persisted.
a He said that, well, that I should remain calm, that he couldna t see anything weird, but in the following weeks I had considerable swelling, for which I went back to the doctor.
a I said I could see something wasna t going well (laughter) and thata s when he decides to carry out further analysis. So they performed an ultrasound scan.
“I went home and two or three hours later the cluba s doctor called me and said, a look we have to go and see a specialista and then I feared the worst, that something wasna t going well.
a Then when we go to the specialist. He sat me down along with the cluba s doctor and said, a look what you have is a tumoura and they wanted to operate on me the next day.
a I never thought it could happen to me, but well, nobody is exempt from these things. It could happen to anyone, but at the time it was a shock.
a From then on I had in my head to be able to overcome it and to be OK again and play football again.
a I was operated on in Argentina. They removed the testicle. It was a seminoma, then they blocked everything so it couldna t do metastasis anywhere.
a The post-surgery studies were good and well, I went back to England after being discharged.a
But his return to Tyneside wasn’t a happy one.
Gutierrez explained: a I returned mid-November and at the beginning to mid-December the manager said I should find myself another club, that it was best… er, I understand a lot of things about football that, well, that for the directors it is a business, no?
a It is clear that they look after the cluba s interests, but I think in a situation like that, you need to save (consider) other things, even more if you see I had been playing for five years before having this problem, I was always playing.a
The Argentinian had a contract with the club until 2015, which included a clause of automatic renewal according to the number of games played.
This is where the problems arose for Gutierrez and his struggles with the club.
Gutierrez said: a I wona t be able to forgive the way Ia ve been treated, no?
a Because I understood the team at that time (wasna t doing so well?) that one needed to fight to return to the pitch.
a Well I dona t think it was the right time nor the circumstances and I think at times like that, you should look after the individual, the player.a
It is believed at this time that Newcastle did not pay for their playera s medical expenses.
Gutierrez added: a I never asked for anything. I paid for it because for me, the most important thing, as I told you, was my health.
a If they thought it was OK to do it that way, then ita s OK. I never asked for anything and thata s it. I wasna t interested.a
Then he began a road to recovery, a long road at that, but one which ended up with him running a marathon and then eventually playing football again.
However, there was still a lot for him to go through before he could even think about any of that, as he emotionally explained.
Gutierrez said: a The first control I had after the surgery, it showed like a metastasis in the suprarenal gland. It was difficult to be told you had to have a chemotherapy treatment, when you dona t even have much information about what the treatment really was.
a Ita s a word that every time you hear it you are scared, without doubt it was very hard to subject myself to a treatment like chemotherapy, that ita s a treatment that precisely tries to fight whatever is wrong in the body.
a It is clear ita s an empty feeling but it fights whatever one has wrong and tries to take it out, so the best thing to do was to undergo the treatment as quickly as possible and to remain positive to get through it.
a From the first moment from the surgery I remained positive and always trying to look ahead.
a My friends and my family, it probably was harder because, well, they had to support me during a time like that, sometimes with chemo you are very down, you go down .
a Then for those who support you, it is also very difficult to know how to act at certain times.
a Then well, not even to mention my girlfriend, this happened very early in our relationship, we were only starting to know each other and she was next to me like a lioness, like a warrior, and was next to me at all times.a
When he returned to the first team for a substitute appearance, he receieved an ovation not seen at Sports Direct Arena for quite some time .
He said: a The people from Newcastle, the fans have behaved amazingly.
a When I go around the city they congratulate me and say Ia m looking very well.
a Very emotive words that make you very proud when you hear them. People have been so concerned for me and theya ve sent me those messages.
Despite his problems with the club, and he clearly remains bitter, Gutierrez wants at least one more year playing in the famous black and white jersey.
He said: a I know the situation here (at Newcastle) isna t the easiest but Ia m going to fight to remain here. Time will tell, what I can do and ita s in my control is to leave everything, to give the best of me and see how far I can get.
a Without doubt one, after a problem like I had, sees things from a different perspective and the order of priorities changes.
a But ita s also difficult to get other people to understand because for everyone their own troubles are more important, arena t they?
Gutierrez has emerged from this a real hero. Not for just surviving, but the way he has conducted himself. The guy is a true role model.
Not that he wants to be seen as any different.
Gutierrez said: a I always say this when people say Ia m an example, I say that I shouldna t be taken for example, I dona t like it.
a Ia d like to leave maybe my experience, what I lived and how I lived it.
a To be an example (role model) is for others that are real role models in life.
a Ia d like to show that in the same way I overcame this problem I wish I could help many people to see this illness in a different way.
a Nowadays science has also moved forward a lot. Not every cancer is the same.
a There are all sorts of different ones, but it is clear that it is very important to prevent it, to attend your control meetings and if you have to go through a situation like this, to have faith on anything, to surround yourself with the people you love and always look ahead.a