Duffy's shock at Hartson illness

PUBLISHED: 11:31 14 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

The man who brought John Hartson to Norwich City today said he shared the sense of shock in the football world at the news that the former Wales international striker has cancer.

The man who brought John Hartson to Norwich City today said he shared the sense of shock in the football world at the news that the former Wales international striker has cancer.

The 34-year-old has been diagnosed with testicular cancer, which has now spread to his brain.

Hartson played four times for the Canaries in 2007 when he was signed on loan by former assistant manager Jim Duffy, during his short stint as caretaker boss.

Duffy, Brechin City manager, said: “The only reaction whenever anyone finds out about cancer is you are stunned.

“The only message you can send is that you hope with the advances in medical science today that he makes a full and speedy recovery.

“John was in good form when he was at Norwich and if he knew anything then, he certainly didn't discuss it.

“He was a tough player on the pitch but cancer is something that can strike anyone and there have been many cases in football.”

Duffy described Hartson, who was on loan to City from West Bromwich Albion, as “a very, very honest guy” who was a hero at Celtic, where he spent five years.

“I know Celtic fans absolutely loved him, he scored more than 100 goals for the club and was a huge part of the success in reaching the UEFA Cup final,” said Duffy.

“He's still very, very highly regarded by the supporters and popular in the media. Scottish people took to him. Fans on all sides in will be united behind him when they hear something like this.”

Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association expressed their support and sympathy for the Welsh star.

Secretary Kathy Blake said: “On behalf of all Norwich City fans I'd like to wish him well, and wish him a speedy recovery.

“I am quite shocked by the news and I feel for him and his family. He is a young man still and it must be quite serious to spread to his brain.

“He wasn't at Norwich very long but he always had a good track record and has scored a lot of goals in his career.”

Hartson, who also played in England for Luton, Arsenal, West Ham, Wimbledon and Coventry, was given the news at the weekend following tests at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea after complaining of severe headaches.

He was signed for Celtic by Martin O'Neill in a £6million deal in 2001 and during that time was voted Player of the Year by both his fellow professionals and the Scottish Football Writers' Association.

A cancer specialist at the hospital where Hartson was diagnosed urged fans to respect his privacy.

Dr Gianfilippo Bertelli, consultant medical oncologist at ABM University NHS Trust in Swansea, confirmed that the former striker attended the city's Singleton Hospital on Friday “displaying symptoms consistent with testicular cancer”.

He added: “Unfortunately, it has also been confirmed that this cancer has spread to Mr Hartson's brain.

“We are awaiting the results of further tests to establish a full picture of Mr Hartson's diagnosis.

“We will be commencing a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy as soon as possible and foresee many months of treatment.

“Mr Hartson will continue under the care of the specialist consultant oncologists as we aim for a positive outcome from this treatment.

“We realise that Mr Hartson is a much-loved figure and there are many fans and well-wishers who will be keen to hear news of his progress.

“However, while treatment is ongoing, we would ask that the privacy of Mr Hartson, and all the patients who attend our hospital, is respected.

“With his blessing, we will give further updates when appropriate.”

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