ANDY COLE was one half of arguably the greatest ever Premier League strike duo.
But now the Manchester United legend, who won the Treble with Dwight Yorke and Co in 1999, reveals his fears, fighting spirit and future following a kidney transplant this year.
Danny Higginbotham: You had a kidney transplant earlier this year. How was it and how are you getting on?
Andy Cole: It was pretty bad. It was June 2015 and I suffered kidney failure when I got a virus. There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it. At first, I refused to see the doctor, like a typical man.
DH: You thought it would just blow over?
AC: Yeah, I was tired and jet-lagged and I thought whatever it is I’ll sleep it off. But it didn’t turn out that way.
It’s been so tough mentally, much tougher than I thought. I’m an independent guy. I don’t like relying on people. The things I want to do and have always done, I can’t.
DH: Will you get to that point?
AC: I hope so. I’m six months since the transplant but I want to run before I can walk. I’m impatient. The transplant has to take. Over the first three months you are more susceptible to rejection, although it can be rejected at any time.
It’s like getting a credit card. I got the credit card and thought that would be me feeling 100 per cent. But then there’s the small print which is the side effects of the medication. They are effing painful and no one tells you.
My head fell off a few times. One minute you’re fit, independent and all of a sudden this comes and takes your legs away. Bang.
DH: What were the side effects?
AC: It’s crazy. You lose appetite. But then the steroids — all the water retention, all the weight. Everyone says you’ve let yourself go, all this ‘who ate all the pies?’ stuff.
DH: That must have been hard to deal with?
AC: It was the hardest thing. I’m a private person. So when I came out and said this is the reason, everyone was like, ‘how could it happen to him?’ It doesn’t matter who you are. If it’s meant for you, it’s meant for you.
DH: Now do you need to be left alone to deal with it?
AC: A bit, because my moods can be up and down. I watched my old United team-mates play last month in the Legends game with Barcelona. I was devastated as I wanted to play but couldn’t. It’s crazy. Two years ago I was fit, healthy. You question yourself: ‘When was the last time I felt like myself.’
DH: OK. You’re not 100 per cent but you’re not where you were.
AC: No, far from it. I’m happy to still be here. My problem was I was in denial.
My mentality was like in football. If you’re injured, work hard, get better. So, I’d go to the gym, work hard. Then I’d come home and just sleep for the rest of the day. Go back to the gym the next day and repeat.
I kept saying to myself: ‘You’re not ill’. Then I had to confess I was.
DH: Was that not a relief?
AC: No, it was tough because then I had to accept it. I don’t accept failure very well. I’ve always proved people wrong. This was like conceding defeat.
DH: I bet you never felt sorry for yourself?
AC: No. It’s just frustration. Doctors tell me I’m doing great. But some days you feel high, some days like ****.
DH: And Man United have been good?
AC: Yeah, the football fraternity has been brilliant. The response from fans all round the country, from my United team-mates, like Yorkey, Roy Keane, Sir Alex. Man United as a club have been fantastic.
DH: That’s a compliment to you as a person.
AC: Cheers. There’s the odd stumble, but I’m getting there.
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