John Hartson was a giant footballer, but even the greatest are not immune to the things that can cause entire worlds to fall apart.
The legendary Celtic forward has experienced some of the greatest achievements imaginable, from scoring 30-yard goalscorers at Anfield to winning six major titles with the Hoops.
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Hartson is forever written in Celtic folklore
But in a deeply moving interview with Ezanime’s Sam Matterface for our latest episode of Up Front With, Hartson insists that he’s getting through life’s lows which gives him the most pride.
In 2009, the Welshman was diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer and entered a critical condition that could have signaled the end of his life.
Survival brought relief, but also mental scars as Hartson battled depression and gambling addiction.
It’s hard to put the 45-year-old’s experiences into words, so here’s how he describes it: “When I finished playing soccer, I carried this addiction to the game with me.
“I had testicular cancer that spread to my lungs and brain, I spent six weeks in the hospital, I had two emergency brain operations.
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John Hartson tries to keep a positive outlook on life
“And I had a divorce where it felt like my heart was ripped from my chest and stamped all over the place. That’s what a divorce costs you.
“I am not someone who has had this perfect life. I had problems and I made mistakes.
“I never sought help, but there is no doubt that I have had depression and mental health problems, it is impossible not to feel bad.
But I have always tried to get up. Not so with mental health, you have to speak up and seek help.
“The most important thing in my life now are my children and my health. If I don’t do another soccer concert, that’s fine. I have a house that is paid for and a few pounds around me.
“I’m a very normal and humble boy from Swansea who has an amazing career, actually I get a bit embarrassed when people want a photo.”
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Hartson was a player in his prime
But to Ezanime’s Sam Matterface, Hartson is much more than just a normal Swansea boy – he’s the man who saved her life.
Matterface was diagnosed with testicular cancer three months after Hartson, after being pressured to have the Welsh story reviewed.
“You saved my life,” he told Hartson. “Because I never would have challenged my doctors to keep examining me as much as they did before I was finally diagnosed with testicular cancer three months after you.
“If it weren’t for his highly publicized illness, I would never have known.”
Hartson, audibly emotional, cries as he responds, revealing how close he came to death.
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He said: “My message to the people would be: do what I say and not what I did. Go and get a checkup if you have a lump and don’t leave it four years like I did.
“It was very close at one point, I almost lost my life.
“I am lucky to have been through that experience. I’ve tried it on every radio show for the last ten years. I can talk about anything, but when it comes to your life, your family and your children, that’s what grabs you. “
Listen to the full clip via the video at the top of this article, and watch the full interview on Ezanime at 8pm on Saturday.