Being told that you have cancer is something that completely changes your life. This is certainly true in the case of Pirmin Schwegler, and the news will have hit his parents particularly hard - given that young Pirmin was only 16-months-old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“I was extremely young when the illness struck, so I did not really understand it at the time,” he explained in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. A long and arduous battle lay ahead for the small boy and his family, but it paid off. Today the 28-year-old is a professional footballer, captain of Bundesliga club Hoffenheim and has even played in a FIFA World Cup™.
At first it did not look like Schwegler would survive. “In the first phase it was very acute and difficult, it was a question of life or death,” reflected the Swiss international, who has been capped 14 times for his country. He was only given a ten per cent chance of survival as doctors at the children’s ward of the University Hospital of Bern, led by Dr. Annette Ridolfi Luthy, fought to save the life of the young child. The chemotherapy was successful but that was not the end of the battle.
In the years that followed the midfielder had to regularly go back to the clinic for check-ups. It was a childhood that was clearly very different from that of his classmates, and there was only one thing that helped him to forget everything. “I liked playing football at the time. I could go on the pitch and I was part of a group. That was very important,” recalled Hoffenheim’s key man.