Former England and Manchester United striker Andy Cole has revealed details of his battle with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease that caused weight gain and left one of his kidneys functioning at only 20 per cent.
"I remember when I was retiring I said to my kids 'I promise you I'll never put on weight' because people always think footballers retire and eat and drink and put on loads of weight," Cole (44) was quoted as saying by Irish Mirror.
"The weight you've put on through the water retention, that wreaks havoc with your head because you're saying to yourself 'I don't want to look in the mirror any more' because you're not the same. You don't feel the same, you don't feel as confident about yourself, but then it's out of your hands.
"I kept out of the public domain for a hell of a long time, about six months or so. I wouldn't tell a soul," he added.
Cole spoke of the taunts he suffered from people watching him putting on weight. "You're getting all these comments 'Andy Cole, he's put on all this weight', 'who ate all the pies?' and all that kind of stuff."
The illness has made Cole wiser nevertheless. "People were questioning my weight and my appearance and things like that. Now I've actually come out with it everyone was saying.