BRAVE Sven-Goran Eriksson kept his terminal cancer diagnosis secret for a year to focus on spending quality time with his family and friends, it was revealed today.
Sven’s close friend and agent Anders Runebjer revealed the dying soccer boss suddenly decided to break the news of his terminal diagnosis.
The former Three Lions boss, 75, made no mention of his plan to reveal his illness live on air on Sweden’s P1 Radio as the pair drove to a Swedish radio interview together.
Sven suffered a stroke when he collapsed after a run near his Swedish home last year and was later diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer – and now has “a year at best to live.”
He had been keeping his illness secret since February last year to focus on his family and recently organised a Christmas get-together – which could have been his last.
Lawyer Mr Runebjer said: “He said nothing about it when we were in the car on the way to the radio station in Karlstad.
More on Sven-Goran Eriksson
“I’m not sure one had even decided then. I don’t know whether it was something he decided right before or during the interview.
“This has been a very difficult thing for Sven and I think he has considered for a long time about when and how to tell about it publicly,” Runebjer told Swedish paper Expressen
Sven was said to have collapsed the day after a jog before medical tests showed that he had suffered a stroke – but also that he had cancer.
Further tests revealed the popular soccer supremo was suffering from inoperable pancreatic cancer and was terminally ill.
Speaking to BBC Sport today, he said: “I thought I was fully healthy, but suddenly I had a stroke, small stroke, so I fell.
“My children took me to the hospital and after one day of examination, they told me I had five small strokes, but that’s okay, they said, no problem, you recovered 100 per cent from that.
“But the worse thing, they said, is that you have cancer.”
Sven said doctors told him they would be unable to operate, and would instead give him “treatment and medicine” to “live as long as possible”.
He added: “I have that diagnosis and they can’t operate.
“When you get a message like that, I think you appreciate every day and you’re happy when you wake up in the morning and you feel okay.”
Pal Mr Runebjer said Sven decided to keep his health secret for almost a year before suddenly deciding to go public.
He said: “It has been tough for him. First of all, Sven had to accept himself that he was sick before he could talk about it.
“But now it has matured and he felt he wanted he wanted to share.
“It has been tough and difficult for everyone. Most of all for Sven , of course, but also for those close to him.
“We have tried to be there and support him as best we can.”
Sven’s last club, Swedish league side Karlstad said they were grateful for Sven’s continuing commitment to the club in spite of his failing health.
Despite stepping down from his full-time role last February for undisclosed health reasons, he stayed involved in the club’s work, attending home matches and sponsoring club trips to Italy and Portugal.
Club CEO and sports manager Thomas Andersson told Expresen: “He has not been very active this season.
“He’s been coming to the home games and stuff, so obviously we’ve understood that it hasn’t been great. But he hasn’t had the opportunity to be working.”
“We have had the greatest respect for the fact that Sven has been ill and he himself has had to decide what he wanted to tell and not to tell. We haven’t dug into it that much.”
What is pancreatic cancer?
PANCREATIC cancer is the eleventh most common type of cancer in the UK and the sixth highest cause of cancer death.
The disease affects a large gland that is part of the digestive system – the pancreas is located behind the stomach and under the liver.
It has two main functions: dripping digestive enzymes into the gut to help break down food, and releasing the hormones insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar.
Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant – cancerous – cells form in the tissues of the pancreas.
Five signs of the disease that could be mistaken for another condition, or niggle, include persistent stomach ache, backache, indigestion, unexplained weight loss and bowel habit changes.
Other symptoms that might be more obvious include jaundice, difficulty swallowing and vomiting.
Patients may also suffer the symptoms of diabetes because pancreatic disease stops the production of insulin.
The causes of the disease are not exactly known but there are several risk factors that can make someone more likely to get the disease.