Livingston manager David Martindale has backed Daniel Barden to use his competitive spirit and fitness to beat cancer.
The on-loan Norwich goalkeeper asked to be part of the Livingston squad for their recent game against Hearts despite knowing there was a fair chance he was suffering from cancer.
The Wales Under-21 international returned south for a consultation with a specialist two days after the game and was later given the bad news that he had testicular cancer.
“Daniel found out he had the tumour before the Hearts game and had a good idea that it could be cancerous,” Martindale told the PA news agency.
“The big man, fair play to him, asked to stay on to the Saturday before he travelled down to see the specialist on the Monday after the Hearts game.
“I’m gutted for him. He was actually getting to the standards that we needed in the Premiership, he was training really well, and it’s a wee bit frightening to think that he was out there training with cancer in his body.
“He was hitting the heights we expected and doing extremely well but it shows how vulnerable we all are. It puts football into perspective for me.
“The fighter in Daniel, he is a professional athlete, he is going to meet this challenge head on.
“Being involved in football for so long, I think that is going to help him in his battle with cancer, and I’m sure it is one he is going to overcome.
“There is a 95 per cent success rate with testicular cancer if it is caught early, and Daniel’s has been caught as early as they could catch it.
“I think the athlete and competitive nature of Daniel will see him through.”
Martindale hopes the diagnosis can help serve as a warning to others.
“There is a stigma with cancer that you think it’s only older people that it affects,” he said.
“But Daniel is 20 years old, he is in fine health, doesn’t smoke, and it can happen to any of us. If it highlights anything, hopefully it gets people checking themselves.”
Another positive response has been the outpouring of support for the Wales Under-21 international.
“It wasn’t until late last week that I spoke to the squad and gave them a bit more detail about Daniel’s situation,” Martindale said.
“I think Daniel starts his treatment on Monday so all the boys are rallying round him. But to be fair, when it was announced, not just the sporting world but everyone on social media did.
“That’s one of the massive positives on social media for me, the amount of support that Daniel was shown.
“Obviously social media can be a very negative place at times but I think in times of adversity, you can see how powerful social media is.
“And I think Daniel took a lot of heart from the messages that everybody sent to him from Livingston, from Norwich, and others on the sites.”
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