Andy Cole has lifted the lid on his battle with kidney failure – and revealed his nephew was his donor.
The Manchester United legend had a transplant in April after suffering from a condition which causes scarring of the kidneys.
Cole first fell ill in June 2015, after picking up an airborne virus.
‘How I actually picked it up on whatever continent I was in, who will know,’ he explained.
‘It took a bit of time to register because being the person I am — (like) men in general — if you fall ill the worst thing you want to do is go to the doctors. I tried to man up for a bit too long.’
Cole enlisted the help of United’s former club doctor and a specialist at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
‘It was a real shock when he said get yourself in,’ the Treble winner added, ‘I thought nothing of it. So when the guy who became my specialist said I wouldn’t be going home I thought that it can’t be that bad, but it was.’
Cole, now 45, added that if it was not for his wife Shirley he would not be here now.
‘First, I just thought I was dehydrated,’ he said. ‘I thought ‘Drink loads of water and then you’ll be good to go’. Then I started retain a lot of water and that wasn’t like me because I never gained weight. I was blowing up. That was the only reason I called the doctor.
‘My wife got on my case as well. To be fair, it’s a good job she did, otherwise I would not have bothered. But I’m here to tell the tale.’
Cole, who will assist manager Bryan Robson when a team of United legends take on their Barcelona counterparts in a two-legged fixture to raise funds for the club’s Foundation, eventually had another member of his family to thank too.
‘The donor is my nephew, Alexander,’ said Cole whose condition was diagnosed as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. ‘He’s 28 and it’s a noble job.’
Cole, who won 15 England caps, is now looking forward to the future. ‘It’s been two months (since the transplant),’ he said. ‘After three more you can find out a lot more about kidney capacity and where you’re going to be.’