Leeds United cult hero Dominic Matteo is encouraging fans to ‘march on cancer’ with the club’s Official Charity Partner Yorkshire Cancer Research this Giving Tuesday (December 1).
As part of the charity’s season-long partnership with Leeds United, the former defender has shared his experience with cancer after recovering from a brain tumour earlier this year.
The 46-year-old spoke about the importance of research and about his drive to help others affected by cancer.
Dominic, who became a firm favourite with Leeds United fans after scoring an important goal against AC Milan at the San Siro in 2000, said:
“The partnership with Yorkshire Cancer Research is massive for me. I love living in Yorkshire and it has a place in my heart. People in Yorkshire are helping me through my illness, and I want to give as much help as I can in return.”
Dominic was diagnosed with a brain tumour in November 2019 after struggling with his eyesight. Following urgent, life-saving surgery and radiotherapy at Leeds General Infirmary, he received the ‘all-clear’ in April 2020.
He said: “It was very unexpected. I didn’t think there was anything too wrong. I complained about my eyesight and I think that was the first sign. My memory is vague about what happened after going to hospital, but I remember deteriorating so quickly. I remember the pain in my head was unbearable.
“I honestly can’t speak highly enough about the NHS and what they did for me. It was just incredible. I was very lucky to have an oncologist who is pioneering, very forward thinking. I think that's important.
“The toughest part was seeing the worry and concern it caused my wife, and the kids not knowing what was happening. I’m very lucky to still be alive. Going through cancer changes your whole outlook on everything. You have to dig deep. I must say that the football community are one of the reasons I’m still here. To get so many messages at that time in my life when I was really struggling meant so much to me.”
Throughout the 2020/21 season, Yorkshire Cancer Research and Leeds United are working together to raise awareness of the world-leading research taking place in Leeds and across the region.
Following delays in the diagnosis and treatment of people with cancer due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yorkshire Cancer Research is hoping fans will join in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, and raise vital funds to help the charity continue its research across Yorkshire.
Dominic added: “It’s really important that we get behind things like this. 1 in 2 people will be affected by cancer. Research is crucial. It’s been tough because of what’s been going on in the world with Covid, and hopefully now we can get people working in that world again and learning about these diseases. We want to find new ways to diagnose and treat cancer so we can all move forward.”