LONDON May 28 Eric Abidal was stunned with
gratitude after Barcelona captain Carles Puyol invited him to
lift the Champions League trophy and cap a triumphant return
from illness at Wembley on Saturday.
Puyol made the gesture to his team mate at the end of their
3-1 win over Manchester United, clearing the way for the
Frenchman to take the honour following his return to the side
after having a liver tumour removed.
"I can't explain the emotions I have," Abidal told
reporters. "It's spectacular. I'm so thankful for the gesture."
Barca were shocked in March when Abidal, who had been in
imperious form, was diagnosed with a liver tumour.
After undergoing surgery to have the tumour removed, the
31-year-old returned as a late substitute to a rapturous
reception in the Champions League semi-final second leg at the
Nou Camp at the start of this month, when Barca secured a 3-1
aggregate win over Real Madrid.
The France international joined the Spanish champions from
Olympique Lyon in 2007 and has also played for Ligue 1 sides
Lille and AS Monaco.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola also praised his captain for a
gesture he described as making the club stronger.
"I want to thank Carles publicly for the gesture," he said.
"It honours the club and makes us stronger.
"It's another demonstration of the sort of club I understand
we are and demonstrates the human qualities of the dressing
(Additional reporting by Iain Rogers in Madrid; Editing by
Sonia Oxley; To comment on this story email