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Dominic Matteo still fighting daily battle two years since brain tumour

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Former Leeds and Liverpool defender Dominic Matteo underwent a terrifying ordeal when he was rushed for a brain operation in 2019 before being diagnosed with a rare cancer called Anaplastic Ependymoma

Dominic Matteo posted this photo almost 18 months ago when his brain scan was clear – but his battle is ongoing

Dominic Matteo is still fighting a daily battle almost two years on from the shock brain tumour diagnosis that changed his life.

In November 2019, the former Liverpool, Leeds United and Scotland defender was rushed in for a seven-hour operation after a routine check-up led to a brain scan and the discovery of a large malignant mass.

Recalling these scary moments, he says: “I went from working to collapsing in a heap, that quickly. I really shouldn’t be here.

“I was scared, I didn’t know what was going on. The day earlier I was working on TV and then the next day I was fighting for my life and I didn’t know why.”



Defender Matteo playing for Liverpool in his heyday
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Image:

Getty Images)




That life-saving surgery was follow by the devastating news that Matteo was just one of two people in Europe with an incredibly rare form of brain cancer called Anaplastic Ependymoma.

And, while his short-term prospects were improved by going under the knife, his fight with the disease is far from over.

As he explains: “I still can’t read and write and I can’t drive – I can’t do too much at the minute.

“But it doesn’t stop me doing anything; I can still talk. It’s like being a child again but obviously having people around you who have been through it and tell you how to get past it and different ways to live your life, that helps.”

Indeed, Matteo’s struggles with cancer haven’t prevented him from forming a charity aimed at helping the less fortunate, including those suffering with similar health issues.









The idea came about as a result of meeting Dave Bolton, a brain tumour sufferer who is seven years on from a diagnosis that typically comes with a 12-18 month life expectancy.

A former police officer and kickboxing world champion, Bolton not only helped Matteo come to terms with his cancer battle but also inspired him to help others.

Of their friendship, Matteo says: “I think we came together for a reason. When you meet somebody for the first time, it’s sometimes hard to get an impression straight away, but with me and Dave we connected.

“We don’t mind talking about tough situations. If we can help other people through it, that helps us.

“When they say all the facts about how long you’ve got to live, me and Dave don’t listen to them. I don’t believe in that and Dave is similar.

“We do have bad days, we all do, but we’ve got coping mechanisms now and if we can inspire other people to have them…

“We’ll never be out of treatment, me and Dave, unless some miracle cure comes about, which I believe might happen – they sorted Covid out pretty quickly didn’t they?”



Matteo has since helped set up the Ahead Of The Game Foundation and raised thousands at their inaugural golf day
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Image:

Dave Bolton)




The pair’s Ahead of the Game Foundation was launched this week at a golf day held at Caldy Golf Club on the Wirral, and saw the likes of Robbie Fowler, Paul Dickov, John Aldridge and Micky Gray tee off in aid of their old friend.

Matteo and Bolton now hope to use the £25,349.86 raised to address the fact that, despite being brain tumours being the deadliest cancer in people under 40, research into their treatment remains criminally underfunded.

Helpfully, Matteo also gets a kick out of giving back to others after being helped through the two most difficult years of his life.

“Helping people is one of my big passions. I’ve always been that person,” he says.

“I feel like sometimes you get your rewards in life if you help someone. It doesn’t always work that way, but I feel like karma, I believe in that.

“If we can help a few people and help ourselves along the way, that’s what life’s all about.”




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