Former Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Marton Fulop has confirmed his intention to take an indeterminate break from the game following the removal of a malignant tumour.
The 30-year-old, who also spent time at West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City during his career in England, had an operation on his arm last week to remove the tumour and is now undergoing rehabilitation. Moving back home to Budapest to be closer to his family, Fulop has confirmed his desire to continue playing once he has recovered.
"I am sure that, after a few months, I will be ready both physically and mentally, to continue playing football," he told the Sunderland Echo. "What is more, I'd like to train between the treatment courses, as the doctors have said this is fine, and, in fact, they heartily recommend it I am very grateful for all the messages and good wishes – it really helps me that many are thinking of me."
Discovered during a routine operation to fix muscle problems in his arm, the disease was caught during the early stages and confirmed to be malignant.
"When training in February, I felt a sharp pain in my arm, there was bleeding and I could feel that something was pulling the tendon that moves my middle finger, and I couldn't straighten out my finger," he explained. "I contacted Doctor Ferenc Toth, one of the country's leading hand specialists, who recognised that my hand needed immediate surgery. Since then, a long scar can be seen on my arm, but my hand recovered completely and I could return to playing."
A star performer for current club Asteras Tripolis this season as they finished third in the Greek Super League, Fulop believes he will be ready to begin training in autumn, at which point he will seek a new club following the expiry of his deal with Asteras.
"My contract has come to an end and, with a successful season behind me, there were some great career opportunities in front of me," he said. "But for the time being I cannot dwell on these, and I wouldn't want to put a club's management in such an awkward situation that they have to deal with my problem.
"I'll be following the Facebook page and from time to time will endeavour to publish my most important news but I ask everyone, including the media, to respect the fact that I'd like to concentrate strictly on my recovery and will be unavailable for comment over the coming months.
"I didn't want to cover anything up as I feel I must be honest with the public and those who follow my career. I have thus brought my illness out into the open, the news of my operation, and soon I shall let you know about my full recovery."