Former Celtic striker Hartson has cancer - report
Celtic fans hope the battling qualities John Hartson displayed as a footballer will help him now as he fights cancer.
Supporters have been left reeling at the news that the former Hoops striker has been diagnosed with testicular cancer which has also spread to his brain.
According to the Scottish Sun, the 34-year-old was given the news at the weekend following tests at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea after complaining of severe headaches.
Hartson was a fans' favourite during his five years at Parkhead for his no-nonsense style of play, his commitment to the cause and impressive goalscoring ratio.
The Hoops faithful have now thrown their full support behind the former Arsenal, West Ham and Coventry forward as he begins a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Peter Rafferty, president of the Affiliation of Celtic Supporters' Clubs, said: "He was a larger-than-life player. When he played, he played wholeheartedly. He was a genuine lad, he scored a lot of goals and he was a good player. Let's hope he is going to make a full and quick recovery.
"If anyone can do it, he can. You could see he was a strong-willed person and he will give it his best shot. I don't think there is any doubt about that.''
Hartson was signed by Martin O'Neill in a £6million deal in 2001 and went on to score 89 league goals, as well as being voted Player of the Year by both his fellow professionals and the Scottish Football Writers' Association.
"He was well-respected,'' said Rafferty. "In our away games, if he was working for Setanta, most of the time he would come out and wave to the fans. They were always chanting his name and he was exceptionally well liked. He always had time for the fans, he was always signing autographs and pictures and was very accommodating with his personal time.
"He was one of our major heroes and really well liked and appreciated by the fans. He always gave 100%. It's so sad that something like this could happen to someone so young, he is still a very young man and has a young family.
"It's a real tragedy and we just wish him well with his treatment. Hopefully he will make a full recovery.''
A Celtic spokesperson told www.celticfcnet: "John Hartson is a man whom Celtic Football Club has immense respect and affection for. He has served the club, and the game of football in general, with distinction over many years.
"Clearly, everyone at the club fully supports John and his family at this extremely difficult time. It is very difficult for us to understand what John is going through at the moment, but we will offer any support we can to a great Celtic player. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Celtic family are with John at this time.''
A statement, issued through the hospital, carried words of support from Hartson's family and friends. "All the family, and John's friends, are doing all we can to support him and praying that he will make a full recovery,'' the statement said.
"John is getting excellent care from the oncologists at the hospital as he begins his treatment. John is a family man and we appreciate all the messages of support we have already received.''