Keane paid Ablett a visit hours after big win
STARTING last season with a superb 3-1 victory at Middlesbrough, former Town boss Roy Keane quickly put football to one side.
Just hours later, the manager was joined by every single member of that victorious squad, plus his backroom team, to visit Gary Ablett in hospital after the ex-Liverpool and Everton defender was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Ablett, 45, had been working with Keane and Ipswich with a view to joining his coaching staff but fell ill shortly after the Blues’ pre-season friendly in Holland against PSV Eindhoven.
But speaking about the incident for the first time, Ablett revealed the kind-hearted gesture by Keane and the club which almost reduced him to tears.
He said: “Ipswich had been away to Middlesbrough. I had just watched the goals on television when I looked up and saw Roy Keane’s face pressed up against the window. He asked to come in and said he had brought some of the staff with him.
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“Every player and member of staff who had been to Middlesbrough traipsed in and filled up my tiny room. I could see that some of them were finding it difficult so I tried to have a joke with them. I had a laugh when really I just wanted to burst into tears because Roy had brought them all in.”
Ablett – who was also visited by Everton boss David Moyes while in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge – paid tribute to Keane who has stayed in touch with him since.
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He said: “Roy has been phenomenal with visiting me and it has just been so good to know these people have taken the time to ring you up or check on you - really good friends.”
In just one week after the Eindhoven friendly, Ablett’s life had dramatically transformed and he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare but aggressive form of blood cancer.
Ablett, who has not revealed his current condition, said: “From diagnosis to that first session of chemotherapy was less than three days, so it was a massive shock.
“We’d been to PSV Eindhoven for a friendly on the Saturday but I started to feel unwell on the Friday night. The physio gave me some tablets but I started to come out in painful cysts on my head.
“My gums swelled up and my teeth were sore and swollen and I couldn’t eat anything - I was just a complete mess.”
Ablett, who first went to Ipswich Hospital for treatment before moving to Addenbrooke’s, praised the “brilliant” medical staff who treated him.
He has since been inundated with good-wishes from Town fans as well as those from Liverpool, Everton and beyond.
* Gary was speaking in support of Blue September – a campaign to raise awareness of forms of cancer specifically affecting men
* Away from the focused month of raising funds and awareness, Blue September also supports the Men’s Health Forum (MHF), a charity that provides an independent and authoritative voice for male health in England and Wales
* More information is available on www.blueseptember.org.uk