Football

Barcelona’s Eric Abidal thanks fans following comeback

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Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has admitted it felt special to finally make his comeback after missing over a year of football following liver surgery.

The 33-year-old received a standing ovation as he returned to action for the first time in 402 days coming on as a 70th minute substitute in Barca’s 5-0 demolition of Mallorca on Saturday.

Abidal, who had been out for over a year following a liver transplant last April, said that he was very thankful to the fans for supporting him and for the way they welcomed him back.

 "It was a long (lay-off)," he told L'Equipe. "I really struggled. I received a lot of support through this year and this was the most important thing. From my wife, my parents, my friends, but also the fans of Barcelona too.

"Without them, I would not have returned to football. It was a unique moment. I really enjoyed these 22 minutes, as I was told I played 22 minutes.

"My goal was to return. Now it is done and I try to look a little beyond this...

"After a year of effort and hard work, the ovation is the best thing I could have had."

The defender also indicated that he remains well off full fitness and is currently unable to play a full 90 minutes, having only managed a maximum of 60 minutes in a friendly against Istres.

Despite this he was confident about his progress and just glad to be back playing once again.

"I hope to be part of the group until the end of the season," he added. "Whether on the bench or in the stands, it is not too important. The most important thing is to feel good and enjoy all these moments with my team-mates."

Abidal who will help to ease Barcelona’s injury worries will now focus on helping his side as they look to achieve the Spanish league and Champions League double.

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