The French defender reappeared in the final minutes of the Champions League semi final. He received a standing ovation from the fans and was lauded by his team mates after the game.
Éric Abidal’s return was the most poignant image of tonight’s Champions League semi
final. On March 15 a tumour was detected in his liver, and following his operation and recovery, he
was back in action tonight. It was a wonderful surprise to see his name on the team sheet, and Pep
Guardiola rewarded him with some time on the pitch.
Camp Nou ovation
was a cry of joy in the Camp Nou with a quarter of an hour of the match to go. Éric Abidal was
warming up. Then, in the 89th minute, the defender went on as a substitute for Puyol, with the
whole stadium applauding and chanting his name.
At the end of the game, his team mates gave him the bumps and the Frenchman joined the rest
of the players on a lap of honour., where he was once again treated to rapturous applause.
Emotion and thanks
Abidal then spoke to the Barça TV cameras: “I have never experienced this before. I can
sense that the people love me and I love them too and will try to do my best for them on the pitch,
as always … I am feeling fine, I didn’t do anything for three weeks and now I’m
working hard. My dream was to come back and help the team with so many injuries”.
He was grateful for “the manager’s confidence and the help of the fitness
coaches”, and was also “happy for the group and the fans” after qualifying for
the final. “Let’s see if we can complete the cycle, I remember how they won in 1992 and
I’d like to do it again … But there is a lot of training and matches in between, we
have to take this game step by step”.