Former Manchester United striker Andrew Cole is looking forward to a life in football again as his recovery from a kidney transplant following a two-year battle with illness is going well.
The 45-year-old, who won the treble with the Red Devils 18 years ago, underwent surgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary in April as part of his treatment for Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a condition which causes scarring of the kidneys.
His 28-year-old nephew Alexander provided the donor kidney – “a noble job” as Cole described it.
The former England international can now look forward to returning to the game, as he has ambitions to coach and has already been lined up as assistant manager to Bryan Robson for the United Legends’ two-legged game against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in June and Old Trafford in September.
“My perspective has changed on a hell of a lot of things. I’m looking forward to this,” he said.
“In my mind, I feel I’ve been given another opportunity so if you want to do coaching, this is the best time to do it.”
Cole initially suffered kidney failure in June 2015 as a result of contracting an airborne virus and he spent three weeks in hospital undergoing a kidney biopsy and dialysis.
He suffered notable weight gain as a consequence, which led to him being mocked, and more than half of those with the condition develop chronic kidney failure within 10 years – hence the need for a transplant.
“It has gone really well. The medical team have been absolutely fantastic, the National Health Service has been unbelievable. It is phenomenal the way doctors and nurses looked after me,” he added.
“Me personally I’ll get there, it will take time and perseverance. At times it is tough.
“I think the toughest thing for me is that I can’t be as stubborn as I used to be because no matter what I do now I can’t get there any quicker.
“In football terms if you are injured you can do a little bit more, but with an illness you can’t get there any quicker. It takes time and you get there when you get there.”
Cole, a professional for 19 years – winning five Premier League titles as well as the Champions League and FA Cup – admits he found it hard to comprehend he had an illness and just as difficult to seek treatment for it.
In fact, had it not been for his wife Shirley pestering him, he may not have sought help at all.
“It just took a bit of time to register because being the person I am – men in general – if you fall ill the worse thing you want to do is go to the doctors, and you say to yourself ‘Man up and get on with it’,” he added.
“I tried to man up for a bit too long. I didn’t want to go to my GP, so I spoke to (former United doctor) Mike Stone and he said I had to get myself into hospital and that was that. It was a real shock.
“My wife got on my case as well. To be fair, it’s a good job she did otherwise I would not have bothered.
“I have got to be honest, I’m fortunate. I’m here to tell the tale.
“Fingers crossed. It’s two months (post-transplant). After three more you can find out a lot more about kidney capacity and where you’re going to be.”