Words by Gary Carter
IT IS official – Joe Thompson is fully back after pulling off three miracles.
And you will soon be able to read about the Rochdale defender’s inspirational winning battles with cancer in his autobiography.
The man who saved Dale’s League One status with his late last day goal after conquering the condition for a second time admitted he weighed up whether to play on.
Boss Keith Hill told him, ‘You’ve reached the top of the mountain, you may want to enjoy the view’ after his strike against Charlton relegated local rivals Oldham.
Offers to become a motivational speaker flooded in but he was not going to give up, nor play anywhere else.
Now he has revealed his training levels are the same as before his second diagnosis with the disease and chemotherapy, not bad for someone who at one stage could hardly walk.
“I’m back and when I found out for the second time, I was probably at my peak,” said Thompson, who defeated nodular sclerosing Hodgkin lymphoma in his neck twice.
“I was playing well and was up the top end of the stats. I’ve not missed a session this year and done everything everyone else has done.
“I’m back to my fighting weight, I needed to put two-and-a-half stone on and I can repeat things I maybe couldn’t three or four months ago.”
Thompson hit the heights with the goal that saved Rochdale but soon after he weighed up whether to play on or quit.
After deciding to go on, he hopes to make more headlines as Joe Thompson – The Footballer even though he knows his cancer fights will forever be associated with him.
The 29-year-old added: “There was definitely a thought of, ‘This would be a fantastic end.’ I’d be lying if I said I didn’t say that.
“I’d have been stupid to give it up. I needed to shut off from football and take stock. My family said it’s up to me, it took a month then I came back and signed.
“There were other things in the pipeline but I said, ‘That can wait as I’ve still a lot to offer and love playing the game.’
“I didn’t look at any other avenue in football. I felt that after what I did on that last day, I’d have loved to have stayed at Rochdale. If I wanted to continue and it felt right, then I would do. If not, I’d probably knock it on the head and go down other routes.
“I’ve drafted up a book. Hopefully that will be out in the next six months and I know a lot of people will take a lot from the story and the fact I play football.”
Thompson still has check-ups every three or four months and they make him a nervous wreck.
But what he did must have been good as even Oldham fans say, ‘Fair play,’ and he would not mind having something to fight for on the last day of the coming campaign.
He said: “It’s a memory I’ll have for a lifetime. A lot of people have said things are written in the stars, maybe it was for me.
“But it’s gone now. I’ve always been one, whether it’s playing football or getting through something, who says, ‘Let’s look to the future.’
“I’ve spoken to Oldham fans and they said, ‘Well, some things are just meant to be.’
“They had gritted teeth, 100 per cent, but it’s one of those bigger picture things and you’ve got to put it into perspective. It was a miracle moment.
“But that burning desire to achieve more keeps me going – don’t rest on your laurels and I wouldn’t mind there being something at the end of this season, it’s that competitive nature.”