Former Sunderland goalkeeper Daniel Staples has set for a charity boxing match next month, although he believes a brain tumour scar still has not sunk in.
The 25-year-old suffered a blow to the head when playing for Bedlington Terriers last August, and a scan later that evening revealed he had a bleed on the brain.
He was sent for further tests and the tumour was found. He required emergency surgery, where surgeons removed as much as possible.
“For me personally, I don’t really think it has actually sunk in yet,” Mr Staples said.
“They told me it was a grade two cancer. That means it’s always going to be inside me. I will need treatment in the future.
“The blow to the head that day was a blessing in disguise… I really don’t know who to thank for it. I still don’t know whose knee it was.”
The ex Black Cats player signed his first professional contract with Sunderland at the age of 17 but a gambling addiction led him to stage a bomb hoax at a betting shop, landing him in prison.
However, Mr Staples was given a second chance when he came out, and now a charity boxing for Cancer Research UK allows the former professional to “give something back”.
He said: “I was asked to do it and there was no hesitation. It is for a great cause and it fits in well with what has happened, and it is only right to give something back.
“It is a charity that is close to my heart, Cancer Research UK, everyone gets affected with cancer at least once in their lifetime.”
Lisa Millett, senior regional press officer for Cancer Research UK, told of how grateful the charity is with the boxing event as they receive no government funding.
She said: “We are so grateful to people like Dan who decide to take on this boxing challenge, or any event, to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
“Without people fundraising for us we wouldn’t be able to continue with our life saving research.”
The Ultra White Collar Boxing Challenge, which is held all around the UK at 90 different locations, will be held at the Lancastrian Suite in Newcastle on March 26.