Former Derry City star Paddy McCourt pulled out of Euro 2016 due to wife's brain tumour
Published 20/06/2016 | 14:47
Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt has revealed that he wasn't able to take his place in Michael O'Neill's 23-man squad for the tournament because his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The 32-year-old parted company with League Two side Luton Town two months ago by mutual consent to be with his wife Laura.
Speaking to The Times in London, he said: "When something like that happens, your only thought is for your family."
After arriving back in Gatwick Airport following a holday, Laura suffered a seizure.
"The flight landed at Gatwick and was taxiing to the airport when she had a seizure on the bus," the former Derry City and Celtic player said.
"Paramedics were called to the scene and they rang me. They were asking me if she was epileptic or anything like that.
"They said they were going to send her to East Surrey Hospital. Naturally, I was very concerned.
"Within 48 hours it came back that they had found a brain tumour."
Although the tumour was benign it was increasing in size and the advice was to operate with the surgery set for June 9, the day before Euro 2016 began.
McCourt informed O'Neill that he would not be available for the competition and the Northern Ireland boss was understanding of the situation and agreed not to mention the nature of McCourt's exclusion to the media.
"I called Michael (Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill), explained what had happened and told him I wasn't going to be available for the Euros," said McCourt.
"He said: 'Don't even think about Euros. Just be there for Laura and make sure she gets better.'
"Laura didn't need the attention it would have created if he had said what was really happening."
The prognosis for Laura since the surgery has been very positive.
"It was absolutely nerve-racking but thankfully we were given the best possible news afterwards, which was that everything had been positive.
"Laura is now recovering and we're told that in four to six months, please God, she will be completely back to normal."