Barcelona midfielder Xavi has backed team-mate Eric Abidal to recover from a liver tumour scare.
Abidal is due to undergo an operation on Thursday after doctors detected a tumour in the France international’s liver on Tuesday.
Barca initially announced Adibal would have surgery at a Barcelona hospital on Friday, but the Catalan club have been able to use their connections to bring forward the surgery by 24 hours.
The club gave no timetable for Abidal’s return in their statement announcing the surgery on Tuesday, and pleaded for privacy as the 31-year-old goes through this difficult period.
Abidal’s team-mates at the Camp Nou have rallied around their ill friend, who Xavi said is in high spirits ahead of his operation.
“He’s a strong person, mentally one of the strongest I know and an example to everyone in the locker room,” Xavi said.
“We encouraged him and he was just like he always is, he gave us encouragement.
“He’ll beat this. We were surprised at how good of a state he is in. He told us that that’s life.”
Abidal has become a favourite at the Camp Nou since arriving from Lyon in 2007, and Xavi said the sad news has drawn his team-mates together.
“It’s probably the strongest hit we’ve ever taken. It was the worst moment I’ve ever experienced in a locker room,” he said.
“We’re going to make sure this unites us more than ever.”
“When adverse situations happen to a collective, it helps unite them and that’s what we are going to do. Try to let it affect us the least amount possible. Life goes on.”