LONDON: Nigerian international goalkeeper Carl Ikeme who plays for second tier English side Wolverhampton Wanderers has been diagnosed with acute leukemia, the club announced.
The 31-year-old England-born goalkeeper — capped 10 times — returned “abnormal blood tests” during pre-season testing and further checks confirmed the diagnosis.
“It would be an understatement to say that everyone at Wolves has been shocked and saddened to hear the news of Carl’s diagnosis,” said Wolves managing director Laurie Dalrymple.
“That relates to both players and staff as Carl has been at the club for a very long time and remains such an integral personality within the group.
“At the same time, we all know what a fighter and a competitor Carl is, and I have no doubt that he will take all of those attributes into this battle.”
Ikeme — who has been with Wolves for his entire career, making more than 200 appearances since 2003 although he has spent spells out on loan — has received plenty of support both in England in Nigeria.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has backed the Wolves goalkeeper to beat the ailment.
“The Nigerian football fraternity and indeed the world, pray for @Carl_Ikeme as he faces this tough but not impos-sible journey. We believe,” Pinnick said via Twitter.
“We believe this strength will see @Carl_Ikeme through. Stay strong @Carl_Ikeme and have faith. You will beat this like a champion.
“As devastating as this is, we also know @Carl_Ikeme possesses the fighting spirit associated with Nigerians. We are behind Carl completely.”
NFF general secretary Mohammed Sanusi promised the Nigerian football family will rally round the player in his difficult period.
“Our thoughts are with Carl at this difficult period. The NFF and the football fraternity in Nigeria are taken aback by this sad development, knowing how strong Carl has been in goal for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2015,” San-usi said.
“We have been told that he will start chemotherapy immediately. We want him to stay strong and remain the self-assured man that he has always been, and we will continue to pray for him and wish him the best with regards to the treatment.”
France-based Vincent Enyeama, who Ikeme replaced as the country’s No 1 goalkeeper, was among the first peo-ple to react to this news.
“God be with him @Carl_Ikeme @NGSuperEagles we pray for success and healing,” he said on Twitter.
“Stay strong Carl Ikeme, I am sure you will overcome this battle!” tweeted Bournemouth’s Croatian international goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Ikeme’s Nigerian team-mate Brown Ideye also tweeted his support.
“Just woke up to see a very sad news about @Carl_Ikeme with God you can overcome everything, stay strong ma-te,” tweeted the 28-year-old striker, who is presently playing in China for Tianjin Teda.