Former Newcastle and Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique has opened up on being given the all clear almost a year after undergoing successful surgery to remove a brain tumour.
The 34-year-old was diagnosed with a chordoma in 2018 less than a year after retiring from professional football.
A chordoma – a rare tumour – was detected behind the nerves of his left eye, with Enrique undergoing surgery to remove the tumour in June 2018.
The operation was a success, but Enrique required 35 proton therapy sessions in the aftermath before he was finally given the all clear in April of last year.
Now, speaking to ChronicleLive, Enrique shared his experience of such a harrowing time of his life.
“It hit us [he and his partner] a bit more when I was completely healthy,” said Enrique.
“When we finished the treatment, everything was a bit like, ‘Ooof! It really happened.'”
“Both of us were struggling a bit but we came through it and we are so happy right now. I believe in God and I believe everything happens for a reason and the most important thing in life is you have to learn from things that happen to you. I believe this may help me grow as a person and may help me realise what are the most important things in life.
“It was like, ‘Boom, oh s***! This is crazy’. I had it throughout my life. They said I was probably born with the tumour but it just kept growing and it didn’t affect me until it happened.
“It was life-changing for me, my partner and a lot of people around us. It sounds crazy but it’s for the good. While going through it, it was not good – the treatment, the side effects – but it made you appreciate life more. It changes your head completely.
“Listen, football was amazing. I had an amazing time and I will always miss it because nothing can replace being a footballer, but there’s more to life than just that. It taught me that.”
Enrique became known to English fans after signing for Newcastle Utd in 2007.
Four years of faultless service with the Magpies brought about a switch to Liverpool where he lifted the 2012 League Cup.
When asked if he regretted the actions that led to his exit after a particularly spiky tweet aimed at Newcastle’s apparent lack of ambition upset the club, Enrique said: “I will always have a love for Newcastle and the fans. It was a mistake what I said.
“They have to understand when you are playing, sometimes you are a kid.
“I was 25 when I left. Newcastle gave me so much in every way. As a man, as a player, they gave me everything and I was just a bit mad and that’s why I said it.
“It was hard for me to leave, I have to tell you – even though it was Liverpool. My brother told me, ‘Jose, you are going to a team that has won the Champions League five times’.
“But I said, ‘I’m happy here and if the club changed its mentality in terms of signing players and this and that, I believe I could make history here.’ My brother said, ‘When you have a chance to go to a team like Liverpool, just go.'”
Enrique, who went on to admit he still watches Liverpool and Newcastle games from time to time, now works alongside his brother who runs his own player agency in their homeland of Spain.