An emotional return for Gutierrez

A challenge from Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna in 2013 left Gutierrez needing a scan which revealed he had testicular cancer. His football career was put on hold as he battled for his life but now he is back to the delight of every fan of English football. By Liam Andrews.

Newcastle have endured another rollercoaster season but their problems were put into perspective when Jonas Gutierrez made an emotional return following his recovery from cancer recently.

A challenge from Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna in 2013 left Gutierrez needing a scan which revealed he had testicular cancer. His football career was put on hold as he battled for his life but now he is back to the delight of every fan of English football.

As he closed in on his return, the 31-year-old spoke of what it would mean to pull on the famous black and white stripes once more.

“Yes, I have played in a World Cup, but if I play again for Newcastle then that will be the best moment of my career,” he said. “To get back after the cancer and chemotherapy, to put all of that behind me, would be a huge moment for me. It would be emotional.”

It seemed the moment may never happen and in February he was linked with a move back to Velez Sarsfield, the club where he began his career, as his Newcastle contract expires at the end of the current season.

He was handed his debut with the Argentinian side as an 18-year-old in 2001 and won the league with them in 2005 before earning a move to La Liga’s Real Mallorca. He featured 30 times in the 2005/6 campaign to help his new side finish four points clear of the drop zone.

It was there that Gutierrez was nicknamed ‘Spiderman’ after wearing the superhero’s mask during his goal celebrations. As well as grabbing five assists as Mallorca finished an impressive seventh place in 2007/8, Gutierrez also received his first cap for Argentina after making his international debut against France.

The Premier League then came calling for the winger, who opted to join Newcastle for a reported GBP5million.

“Jonas is a wonderful signing for us,” said then manager Kevin Keegan. “A lot of other clubs have been interested in him and he’ll be a terrific addition to the squad. He’s an exciting player and I’m sure our fans will enjoy watching him.”

Keegan was correct and in his seven years with the club, Gutierrez has become a fans’ favourite after remaining loyal to the Magpies when temporary boss Alan Shearer could not stop their relegation to the Championship in 2009. His loyalty paid off as Newcastle were promoted back to the Premier League by Easter and went the entire season unbeaten at St. James’ Park, with Gutierrez starting 36 times and scoring three goals.

He was then selected by his country to travel to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where he played three times before Diego Maradona’s side crashed out after a 4-0 defeat to Germany.

It was the 3-0 derby-day defeat to Sunderland at St James’ Park in 2013 which affected Gutierrez most as he admitted it made it “the worst week since I’ve been at the club.”

It was the Magpies’ biggest defeat in a Tyne-Wear derby since the 1960s and was a frustrating afternoon for the winger, who was deployed in an unnatural left-back position.

Later in the year, Gutierrez discovered the devastating news he had testicular cancer after a foul by Arsenal’s Sagna left him needing an ultrasound scan.

After recovering from the illness, Alan Pardew sent him out on loan to Norwich City for the second half of the 2013/14 season but he only managed to play four games. Sadly, during a regular check-up, doctors discovered Gutierrez’s cancer had spread and this time he would need chemotherapy.

He has now beaten the disease, hopefully this time for good, and was named on the bench for the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on February 28.

The moment he had long been waiting for then came in the following match against Manchester United when he received a rousing reception after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Boss John Carver said: “Jonas going on wasn’t a sentimental decision, it was a football decision and it was the right decision.”

Now back in the squad, Gutierrez has just a few weeks of the season left to secure a new contract which looks unlikely but he has already won a far more important battle.

FACTFILE Name: Jonas Gutierrez Position: Winger Club: Newcastle United D.O.B: 5/7/1983 Argentina caps: 22 Argentina goals: 1

Moment to remember: Making his long-awaited return for Newcastle against Manchester United recently.

Moment to forget: Was a member of the Magpies squad relegated to the Championship in 2009.

© PA Sport