London (AFP) – Former England striker Andrew Cole has had a kidney transplant, it was announced Friday.
The news was made public by Manchester United, one of his former clubs where the 45-year-old Cole is now an ambassador.
“Manchester United ambassador Andrew Cole has undergone a kidney transplant operation at Manchester Royal Infirmary as part of his treatment for a condition called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis,” said a United statement.
“During his recuperation, Andrew will be taking a break from his role as Manchester United Ambassador.
“Andrew and his family would like to thank the club and fans for their support. They also request that he can continue with his treatment in private, and ask that their privacy is respected.”
As a result of contracting an airborne virus, Cole suffered kidney failure in June 2014.
A side-effect of his condition, which affects the level of protein in the body and causes scarring of the kidney, is an increase in weight.
Cole, who made his name at Newcastle United, spoke about the difficulties of dealing with his health problems in an interview with BBC Sport in February last year.
“Seeing the change in my body, that has been tough, it wreaks havoc with you,” he said. “You get comments like, ‘Andy Cole’s let himself go, who ate all the pies?’,” Cole said.
“I have to take it day by day. I am four months off a year and it has been tough going through this process.”
Cole scored 121 goals in 275 appearances for Manchester United, winning five English league titles during his time at Old Trafford as well as the Champions League.
He started his career at another Premier League club in north London side Arsenal.
Cole, who won 15 England caps, also had spells at Bristol City, Blackburn, Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Sunderland, Burnley and Nottingham Forest before retiring in November 2008.
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