Atlético Madrid midfielder’s comeback from brain cancer and mother’s paralysis, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s training
Emmanuel Emenike has returned from Spain to a place he might have never expected to find himself in. Sitting in the stands at Vicente Calderón on the first day of his return to football, Emenike’s mother’s smile is wide, and as if to say, ‘I’m so proud of you.’
Back in June, two months after the club signed him from AS CentOS in a €100m plus €100m plus €50m plus €75m plus €35m transfer, Emenike sat in a chair and stared while being interviewed for his club’s official website.
He would have had to have thought the interview wasn’t going to be a pleasure. The club’s CEO, Óscar Ramírez, said: “We have to do something, because things are bad. Emenike is here with us.” He then went on to explain Emenike had left the club for personal reasons and the club wanted to find a way to make the former Olympique Marseille midfielder play.
His first act was to have Emenike sign a contract that set him on fire, taking him from being a ‘sportive youngster’ with very little professional experience to a footballer with a massive future. “We are very happy,” Ramírez said. “Now we need to think about the future.”
He has been on the move for two months now, playing in the friendly against the US under-20 team, and on Saturday night he started in the friendly against the Mexican national team in the Camp Nou.
Two weeks later, Emenike will face Spain in the World Cup, a tournament where he is now expected to play a significant role. Although he is still recovering from the type of cancer that forced the premature end to his career at Marseille. “It’s a great pity,” says Emenike, when asked about the reasons for his late return. “The doctors have a lot of work to do with my treatment, as there is a lot of surgery involved.
“I just want to come back to football. In the end, the only thing I can do