FORMER Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop is taking an indeterminate break from football after having a malignant tumour removed.
The 30-year-old, who was at the Stadium of Light from 2006-10, had an operation on his arm last week to remove the tumour and has now entered rehabilitation.
But the 6ft 5in Hungarian international, who has moved back to Budapest to be with friends and family, says he is confident he will make a full recovery and plans to continue goalkeeping practice while he looks for a new club.
He said: “I am sure that, after a few months, I will be ready both physically and mentally, to continue playing football.
“What is more, I’d like to train between the treatment courses, as the doctors have said this is fine, and, in fact, they heartily recommend it
“I am very grateful for all the messages and good wishes – it really helps me that many are thinking of me.”
Fulop is hoping to be well enough to resume football by the end of autumn, at which time he will look for a new club following the expiry of his contract at Asteras Tripoli, who finished third in the Greek Super League last season.
An operation earlier this year cured muscle problems in Fulop’s arm but also revealed the malignancy.
Thankfully, the disease was caught in time, allowing the keeper to undergo another successful operation.
Fulop revealed: “When training in February, I felt a sharp pain in my arm, there was bleeding and I could feel that something was pulling the tendon that moves my middle finger, and I couldn’t straighten out my finger.
“I contacted Doctor Ferenc Tóth, one of the country’s leading hand specialists, who recognised that my hand needed immediate surgery.
“Since then, a long scar can be seen on my arm, but my hand recovered completely and I could return to playing.”
Fulop starred for Asteras in the Greek Cup final and also produced a string of excellent performances to help his side finish third behind only champions Olympiakos and PAOK.
But the original operation revealed the malignancy and the good news is that after a subsequent operation, surgeons have confirmed that the tumour is not the type that could spread to the keeper’s lungs.
Fulop said: “My contract has come to an end and, with a successful season behind me, there were some great career opportunities in front of me.
“But for the time being I cannot dwell on these, and I wouldn’t want to put a club’s management in such an awkward situation that they have to deal with my problem.
“I’ll be following the Facebook page and from time to time will endeavour to publish my most important news but I ask everyone, including the media, to respect the fact that I’d like to concentrate strictly on my recovery and will be unavailable for comment over the coming months.
“I didn’t want to cover anything up as I feel I must be honest with the public and those who follow my career.
“I have thus brought my illness out into the open, the news of my operation, and soon I shall let you know about my full recovery.”