Spain international Nacho was told his football career was over as the Real Madrid defender opened up about his battle with diabetes.
Nacho has made over 100 appearances in all competitions since emerging through the youth ranks at boyhood club Madrid but the 27-year-old's career was almost ended before it even started.
Diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 12, seven-time international Nacho - winner of two Champions League trophies and LaLiga - said he had feared for his footballing future.
"I was only 12 when I found out I was diabetic," Nacho told UEFA.com. "I'd been on Real Madrid's books for two years and obviously it was a tough time.
"I remember going to the hospital – I was supposed to go to a tournament with Real Madrid but had to miss it – and I was seen by a doctor, not an endocrinologist. She told me my footballing days were over.
"I had a really rough time that weekend. Three days later I saw Dr Ramirez, who would become my regular endocrinologist and whom I've grown very fond of. He told me the complete opposite: in no way was football over for me. In fact, it was essential I continued playing because physical exercise is very important. That Monday, my life started again.
"Of course it's difficult, because you have to take care of yourself three times more than a normal person, but in a roundabout way I think that also helps. You have to take greater care with your diet and the way you rest. It makes you more responsible because you always have to carry your equipment [insulin, monitor, etc].
"I have no limitations. I'm lucky enough to play football at the top level and I like playing all types of sport because it's very important to do physical exercise. I do a bit of everything. When we're on holiday, I like to cycle around the mountains. I do duathlons, triathlons ... diabetes doesn't prevent me from doing anything.
"There are food types I need to be a bit more careful about, but I eat everything. I'm lucky it's under control and I get on very well with my doctor. As I said, it makes you a more responsible person and you look after yourself much more. I know it's going to be there for the rest of my life – well, unless they find a cure. It's like having a team-mate by my side."
Nacho has played 16 LaLiga matches this season, 13 of those as a starter ahead of Saturday's trip to Eibar.
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