Football legend Paul Canoville has beaten Covid-19 twice and almost died after six weeks in intensive care.
Now he’s finally out of hospital and urging everyone – especially those in the Black community – to have their covid vaccine although he understands why some are undecided on taking it.
Canoville almost died on the operating table after three emergency ops to try and cure a critical bowel blockage.
Now as he faces a lengthy road to recovery he has revealed he has taken a special course to help people suffering from stress because of coronavirus.
Canoville was Chelsea's first ever black player – making his debut 39 years this week – and inspired a generation of players including Rio Ferdinand, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien.
In an emotional interview with the Mirror Canoville said he should be dead but will use his second chance and the rest of his life to continue his battle against racism, and will help support covid-19 efforts and young players dumped by clubs.
And he said a moving thank you to the NHS for saving his life.
He said: “I shouldn't be alive. It's a simple as that.
“The doctors told me afterwards: “We didn't think you were going to make it Paul”.
“I've had covid twice and luckily survived. I urge everyone to have the vaccine. It's really important and will save lives”.
“Members of the Black community should make sure they take the jab when it is offered to them.”
“I first had covid last year around Christmas. I wasn't very well at all and tested positive but I managed to recover.
“Then when I was taken in hospital I later contracted it again.
“It wasn't until I was discharged that they told me I had somehow caught it while in hospital – they apologised for that.
“But they saved my life – they didn't need to apologise. “I'd like to say “thank you” for all the Doctors and Nurses at Chelsea &Westminster Hospital for saving my life.
“And to my sister June and my partner Sue Campbell in helping with my recovery.”
Canoville, 59, who played almost 100 games for the Blues, said his time in hospital gave him time to re-evaluate his life.
He is still waiting for his vaccine but waiting for his health to improve following his bowel operations.
He already runs his own Foundation but now wants to do more.
He explained: “I have been thinking a lot about the work I had been doing as a youth mentor and brand ambassador for many youth charities as well as my own Foundation.
“Since the EU referendum racism and hate crime had gone through the roof again sadly and in many ways, it felt like we were being transported back to the dark days of the 70s and 80s and the kind of nastiness I had to endure from the National Front who claimed to be British patriots.
“It had been really getting me down to see all the young players today were starting to get the same kind of sick abuse that I had been faced with back in the day.
“I have decided the course of action that I want to take is to take my mentoring work in schools to another level and once I am fully rested and fit for action this is what I plan to do.
“I think that the future is about young people saying enough is enough though and all making a stand together. I am going to dedicate myself to working with academies, schools and youth organisations all over the UK with a mission to educate out racism.
“I have another shot at making a difference now and with the support of family, friends and my foundation I intend to make it count.”
Now he is planning to help those struggling with the pandemic.
He said: “I recently took an online course with the NHS so that I could become qualified as a talking therapy councillor to help those that are vulnerable and feeling anxiety about Covid.”
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