Kieron Dyer has vowed to make the most of his second chance in memory of the person who saves his life.
The 43-year-old former England midfielder needs a liver transplant after being diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a condition which scars the bile ducts and ultimately causes serious damage.
Dyer is now awaiting a phone call from the donor team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to inform him a suitable organ has become available, but is acutely aware of what that would mean.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “I’m aware I’m dependent on someone else’s misfortune giving me the chance to live a long and happy life. My greatest hope is that, whoever’s liver I get, I do that person proud.
“They encourage you to touch base with the family of your donor after your operation and that’s something I thoroughly intend to do.
“It would give me some comfort, I think, if I was in the situation of a family who had lost a loved one. They would have lost someone they have cherished and loved but through their generosity they have given someone else the chance of a long life.
“I hope I’ll earn their legacy. I wouldn’t want to screw that up. I know how precious a second chance would be.”
Dyer, whose playing career took him to Ipswich, Newcastle, West Ham, QPR and Middlesbrough, was diagnosed with a liver condition in 2002 and PSC was detected during a routine check-up, although he was initially not expected to need a transplant until much later in life.
However, his situation has become more pressing and he has had to put his coaching career on hold as a result.
He freely admits he was scared by the news, but has since found the strength to look forward to what lies ahead after dealing with the fears of his family and friends.
Dyer said: “I am not putting bravado on, but you have to find that inner strength, not just for you, but for them. They’re worried, but I’m not worried.
“I am looking forward to it in a way. I am looking forward to being a brand new me and doing things better and quicker because I am still competitive.”