Eric Abidal plays first match a year after liver transplant, gets standing ovation

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

In the 70th minute of Barcelona's 5-0 win over Mallorca at the Camp Nou, Eric Abidal entered the match for Gerard Pique and received a special ovation. It was his first appearance in a match since undergoing a liver transplant in April of last year and a great moment in an otherwise forgettable game.

The 33-year-old defender shook hands with manager Tito Vilanova, who recently returned to the club himself after getting cancer treatment in New York, appeared to say a quiet prayer and then picked up where he left off before the difficult last 12 months.

After the final whistle, Abidal revealed a message to his cousin, who donated part of his liver for the operation, and made it clear how thankful he is.

From Reuters:

"It was a very special moment for me after a year out," said Abidal, wearing a shirt with 'Merci mon cousin' on the front.

"I want to thank my cousin as without him I would not be here today. It is a unique moment," he added.

Leo Messi did not play due to the hamstring injury he suffered during Barca's midweek Champions League match against PSG, but in his absence Cesc Fabregas scored a hat trick and Alexis Sanchez contributed two goals of his own.

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