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Jonas Gutierrez battling testicular cancer

updated 9:21 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Jonas Gutierrez, the Newcastle winger, has revealed he is fighting testicular cancer after beginning chemotherapy in his native Argentina. Jonas Gutierrez, the Newcastle winger, has revealed he is fighting testicular cancer after beginning chemotherapy in his native Argentina.
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Gutierrez fighting cancer
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jonas Gutierrez has been diagnosed with testicular cancer
  • Former Argentina midfielder had left testicle removed in operation
  • The 31-year-old played at the 2010 World Cup
  • Played in England with Newcastle and Norwich

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(CNN) -- The world of football has rallied around Jonas Gutierrez as the Argentine fights testicular cancer.

A midfielder with Newcastle and Argentina, Gutierrez made the announcement during a television interview earlier this week.

The 31-year-old underwent an operation to remove his left testicle last October after the discovery of a tumor.

But after an inflammation of the groin was spotted by doctors at the end of last season, he returned to Argentina to undergo chemotherapy.

"When I was told I had cancer, I went home in tears," he said in an interview with Argentine television show Indirecto on TyC Sports.

"In May 2013, I felt very tough pains on my testicle. After some wrong diagnosis, an ultrasound detected the tumor.

"I came here and I assumed the costs despite having a contract with Newcastle.

"Money is not important. What is important is my health. I had to start chemotherapy."

Gutierrez recalls the final day of the 2012-13 Premier League season where he first felt pain following a tackle with Bacary Sagna, then of Arsenal.

"I had a very hard collision with Sagna in the area of the pubic bone and the genitals," he added.

"From then I had a lot of pain that wouldn't go away. I spoke with the doctor straight after and he said: 'If it doesn't hurt then don't worry.'

'"Then it was holiday time and I felt the pain more in the testicle. The season started and in September and October I noticed that the testicle started to become inflamed. I felt a pain when I put my underpants on, it was uncomfortable.

"I went back to the doctor and they told me to have an ultrasound scan and they detected a tumor and told me I needed an operation. I left the clinic crying and went home and told my dad who was there.

"I spoke to the club and said because of the delicate nature of the problem and because in Argentina I was going to understand everything being told to me better, I wanted to be treated there."

Gutierrez, who won 22 caps for Argentina, made his international debut in 2007 and played at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He says that his teammates have been supportive, particularly Fabricio Coloccini, who Gutierrez played with at Newcastle as well as Argentina.

"This is the most difficult match I've every played. You start thinking about important things when you have problems like this one.

"Some guys like (Gabriel) Heinze gave me strength," said Gutierrez, referring to the former Argentina defender, who played for a number of Europe's leading clubs, including Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Heinze is not the only Argentine footballer to have contacted Gutierrez.

"After surgery, I told (Ezequiel) Lavezzi, (Martin) Demichelis and Coloccini, who is very close to me. We've played together at Newcastle for six years and he calls me. He is almost a member of my family.

"I decided to reveal all this because I think this is a difficult moment, but there is nothing wrong with this. These things may help other people."

Gutierrez, who was on loan at Norwich last season, scored 10 goals in 177 league appearances for the Magpies.

He was nicknamed 'Spider-Man' by Newcastle fans after pulling out a mask to celebrate his goals.

Gutierrez, who has one-year remaining on his current deal at Newcastle, has one more session of chemotherapy remaining.

While he has kept the matter private for some time, it was after receiving an email about an actress who is also battling cancer that he felt compelled to share his story.

"She was showing photographs of when she had hair and when she lost her hair and what she was going through," he said of the email.

"i think there is nothing bad in telling your story; it can even help people and encourage them to fight.

"It removes some of the pressure talking about it and I also think it can help a lot of people who are passing through a similar situation to be strong and to fight and to see that these are situations that you can overcome and emerge stronger from."

Gutierrez is not the first football player in the English game to be diagnosed with the illness.

Neil Harris, who played for Millwall, Northampton's Matt Duke and former Tottenham defender Jason Cundy all returned to action following successful recoveries.

According to figures provided by the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS), testicular cancer usually affects men between the ages of 15 and 49.

It accounts for just 1% of cancers suffered by men with more than 96% making a full recovery if it is caught in the early stages.

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