Chelsea star Saul Niguez once suffered a horror injury that left him “peeing blood” for years.
The Spaniard became the latest addition to Thomas Tuchel’s squad in a Transfer Deadline Day loan deal from Atletico Madrid, bolstering the midfield at Stamford Bridge.
He arrives with title-winning experience, winning last season’s La Liga and two Europa League honours.
Saul is admired in European football for his ability to move the ball from defence to attack with ease – but it has not always been easy for the midfielder.
In the 2015 Champions League round-of-16, a clash with former Bayer Leverkusen star Kyriakos Popadopoulos saw him receive medical treatment.
The Spaniard carried on but had to be substituted off in the 42nd minute, with reports saying his body began to shake, lost feeling in his legs and arms in the dressing room
Saul was immediately rushed to hospital in Germany, getting diagnosed with a kidney hematoma.
While he stayed for an extra four days, he was back on the pitch in a month with an internal catheter.
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Speaking to Spanish TV outlet Mega in April 2017, the midfielder revealed the pain he was playing through with: “In every training session and every game I p***ed blood.
"It was pretty bad, something difficult that people do not know or understand.
"I was risking my health to put on the club colours, to chase the dream."
Saul added to The Guardian the same year the he made the decision to fight through the pain, having only broken into the first team the season before.
The 26-year-old said: “The catheter gives you functionality but it was sore, you’d feel it running, and I was urinating blood.
"The problem was when we took it out, my kidney didn’t work properly. I was given options: play for a month, stop for a month … I said: ‘No, no, that’s no good. Put the catheter back in, I can function.’ But they said: ‘Saúl, it’s not that simple.’
“I was tired of it all and I said: ‘Doc, just take the kidney out. Take it out. I’ll be out for a month, but then I’ll be back again. The doctor was saying: ‘I’m not taking your kidney out;’ ‘Try this;’ ‘Try that.’
"I said: ‘Yeah, I’ll try things but if they don’t work, then what? More of the same?
"No. I just want to get back to playing well, feeling well. Forget it all. Be normal. Play football. I can’t be worrying about getting a knock. I just want to play. Take it out.’"
And it was Atletico boss Diego Simeone’s former assistant German Burgos, who survived cancer, who con
Saul added: "Mono Burgos was so important.
"He came to me: ‘The doctor says you’re talking about taking out your kidney. You’re 22! What are you talking about? Use your head.’
"I was just thinking about football: take this out and play. I thought: lose a kidney, it’s fine, I’ve got another one.
"But Mono told me what he went through, he looked me in the eye: ‘Saúl, think about your life.’ I saw. The seriousness, the future.
"What if you get a problem with the other one? There’s no way out. And we put the catheter back in."
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