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Mark Halsey: Sir Alex may rage about refs but he was the first to wish me well

05 Dec 2009 20:41:09

Mark Halsey: Sir Alex may rage about refs but he was the first to wish me well

Mark Halsey had not eaten for three days, was utterly exhausted but could not hide his elation. The results of a scan taken at the start of last week had shown that the 48-year-old Premier League referee's throat cancer was in remission. Three-and-a-half months after being told that he had the worst example of the disease his consultant had ever encountered, Halsey could start planning his comeback to Old Trafford, Anfield, Stamford Bridge and the other major grounds. Comeback plan: Referee Mark Halsey is hoping to officiate in the Premier League after recent results showed that the 48-year-old's throat cancer was in remission Chemotherapy since his condition was confirmed in August had weakened his immune system, leaving him vulnerable to a virus, and medical staff had told him it may be another month before he felt well. He must also undergo daily radiotherapy treatment aimed at stopping the cancer returning. The therapy is due to finish on Christmas Day.   Referee Mark Halsey looks to get back in the middle after cancer treatment EXCLUSIVE: An unmissable glimpse inside Manchester City, Ireland and Newcastle's dressing rooms with Shay GivenMARTIN SAMUEL: Good news, what can possibly go wrong for England? Yet the former St Albans City goalkeeper, who has been devoted to football since he was a teenager, is looking eagerly towards New Year celebrations that will differ from those of the recent past. On New Year's Eve 2008 Halsey's wife, Michelle, was diagnosed with chronic myloid leukaemia, which is treatable but not curable and for which she must take medication for the rest of her life. Halsey is simply relieved that they have a future together. 'Hopefully for me and Michelle there's a better 2010 round the corner,' he said at his home in Little Lever, near Bolton. 'It's not been a very good year for us, a long haul, very emotional and with lots of tears. When I come back on that pitch there will be a few more tears, too.' Raging gentleman: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may have a go a refs but he was one of the first to wish Mark Halsey a speedy recovery From the frightening first few days of his illness when he asked his consultant 'Am I going to die?' until the moment last week when the same man, Professor Tim Illidge, ran into his hospital room, punched the air and shouted: 'Mark, you've done it!' Halsey has been staggered by the response of the football community. 'The support has meant so much. It's kept me going.'  The biggest names in the game Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Frank Lampard have been in contact to wish him well, and he has been overwhelmed by the hundreds of letters he has received from fans all over Britain and from as far afield as Kosovo, Aaustralia, New Zealand, Canada and Hungary. Their encouragement, his own positive attitude and his refusal to stop training are, he believes, helping him fight his cancer. 'I've really been taken aback,' said Halsey. 'You don't realise how many people round the world know you, and it's meant so much. It has really kept me going.' Ferguson was one of the first to telephone, a response that may surprise those who only recognise the Manchester United manager's willingness to criticise match officials. Well-wishers: Mourinho has invited Halsey to an Inter Milan game in January while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger regularly sends get well soon texts to the ref 'The way Sir Alex is about referees is just emotion at the end of a game,' said Halsey. 'That's all it is. He's very good in situations like mine and sees me as part of the football family. 'Some players regard us as bad people, but we are all in this together and most appreciate that you're just a human being doing what can sometimes be a very tough job. 'I got a text from Arsene Wenger and people like Gary Megson are on all the time checking that I'm all right. Jose Mourinho has invited me to Italy and I've pencilled in the Milan derby on January 29 to go to see him.' As an official who prides himself on man-management and used to be criticisedby assessors for not booking enough players, Halsey admits his recent trauma will affect his approach. Man in charge: Halsey at home with wife Michelle and three-year-old daughter Lucy, who hope 2010 will be a brighter year for their family 'I'll still want to get every decision right,' said the father of three-year-old Lisa and two grown-up sons from his first marriage. 'But I won't worry about it any more. You have to keep life in perspective.' His target is to return to refereeing by the end of January and be back in the Premier League by February, when his hair should have grown back. He would like to remain on the list for another two years and be in charge of the FA Cup final, which would be a 'Roy of the Rovers' finale to his comeback. Not through sentiment, he insists, but because he has earned it. And if it does not materialise? 'Well, I'm still breathing, aren't I?' said Halsey. Donations for the Christie Cancer Hospital, Manchester can be made at www.justgiving.com/mark-halsey  Referee Mark Halsey looks to get back in the middle after cancer treatment EXCLUSIVE: An unmissable glimpse inside Manchester City, Ireland and Newcastle's dressing rooms with Shay GivenMARTIN SAMUEL: Good news, what can possibly go wrong for England?  Explore more:People:Gary Megson, Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, John Terry, Frank LampardPlaces:Milan, Manchester, New Zealand, Canada, Italy, Hungary


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