…following complications from surgery as fans praise ‘utterly inspiring’ story
Paul Canoville, Chelsea’s first black player, is critically ill in hospital following complications during emergency surgery.
Canoville, 58, joined Chelsea in 1981 and is still heavily involved in the club through work with his own foundation.
He has recovered from cancer on three occasions but is now in a critical condition in hospital after surgery.
In a statement, his foundation said: ‘We are sad to advise that our founder Paul Canoville is critically ill in hospital after complications set in after emergency surgery.
‘We are aware that his many fans and followers on his social media accounts have been missing his regular posts for over two weeks now.
‘We know how loved Paul is and will post updates as we get them, but ask that his family’s wish for privacy is respected and that they are not contacted by the media. The PFA are in contact with Paul’s family and being very supportive.
‘Please keep Paul in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.’
Canoville is hugely significant at Chelsea and continues to front campaigns tackling racism and discrimination.
He launched his foundation in 2008 and has said previously that the aim of the charity is to motivate young people to succeed and overcome adversity.
Canoville has spoken on issues of racism, homelessness and depression and has worked with Chelsea’s Academy players in the past.
A Chelsea statement, following confirmation of his condition by his foundation, read: ‘Paul has a major place in Chelsea history.
‘He made his debut in 1982 and was the first black player in our men’s first team.
‘He faced considerable prejudice but stayed strong and went on to make 100 appearances, including during the glorious promotion of 1983-84 and a memorable season in the top flight that followed.
‘In more recent times Paul has been back involved in the club, working on Chelsea Foundation projects and as a host in the hospitality areas at Stamford Bridge.
‘He recently discussed racism in football in a special video with Callum Hudson-Odoi.
‘Get well soon Canners!’
News of his serious condition was met with waves of support across social media as football fans wished him a swift recovery.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: ‘Come on #PaulCanoville you got this… thinking of you & the family!’
The Professional Footballers’ Association tweeted: ‘Paul, we are keeping you and your family in our thoughts.’
One Chelsea fan wrote: ‘Devastated to hear Paul Canoville is critically ill, thoughts with him and his family.
‘When people talk about BLM this fella broke the mould, made fans love him that abused him, has loved @ChelseaFC to the core ever since a true battler, let’s pray he recovers.’
Another fan added: ‘Paul Canoville’s story is utterly inspiring. I hope with all my heart this will have a positive outcome.’
Culled from Dailymail