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Saturday 20 January 2018

Everton legend enjoying life again after winning toughest battle

Kevin Sheedy looks on prior to a Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park
Kevin Sheedy looks on prior to a Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Life is good for Kevin Sheedy as he looks to the future almost two years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Sheedy opted for treatment as soon as he realised he was in trouble – now his message, particularly to men who tend to ignore the warning signs, is: "See your GP if you suspect anything is wrong."

"I'm all clear so everything's good. I'm really healthy and enjoying life," he says. "Now I'm doing as much as I can to bring awareness of bowel cancer particularly and early diagnosis.

"When I was first diagnosed, I was contacted by a few people to say there's a good opportunity, because of having been a player for Everton, it might attract attention and get the message to football supporters in particular.

"So I said if I can help one person, then it would be more than worth it.

"Over the last 14-16 months I've received letters from people saying that due to my publicising my illness, they've gone to their GP. They've been diagnosed with bowel cancer and they've been successfully treated.

"That gives me a lot of help mentally, in that I'm helping other people and that's great."

The former Ireland midfielder has been back at work with the U-16s and U-18s at Everton's highly regarded Academy – graduates include Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell and current Toffees star Ross Barkley.

The links with Ireland are maintained via Ben McLoughlin, signed from Dundalk, and Shane Duffy, currently out on loan, while the first-team squad's burgeoning green connection has been boosted by the signing of Aiden McGeady from Spartak Moscow.

Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy are first-team regulars and Darron Gibson is making his way back from injury.

"We like to get good Irish players over playing for Everton – we've got a massive fan base in Ireland and it's great for them to see Irish players playing for Everton," says Sheedy.

"I think it's important for the Irish team that you've got international players playing at top clubs because that's going to improve the quality of the national team."

Sheedy and former Everton star Duncan Ferguson look after the Everton U-18s, and tomorrow their lads play the Irish U-17s at the Blues Academy.

Later on Sheedy will travel to St George's Park to watch the English U-17s play Belgium, as some of his players are involved in the game, so it means he will miss the Merseyside derby.

"I watch the first team when I can but my job is with the U-18s and it's hugely rewarding," he says.

Irish Independent

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