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Babbel's Freund

Posted on 24 October 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Steffen Freund shared a rehabilitation centre with Markus Babbel as he recovered from serious illness - he now hopes to share a football pitch with him again.

The former international team-mates were re-united at the centre in Donaustauf, Germany, in the summer.

But while Steffen was on his way back from a cruciate knee ligament injury - seen as one of the worst injuries in football - Babbel was battling back from something much more serious.

The 29-year-old was struck down by Guillan-Barre Syndrome - a virus that affects the nervous system - last August.

At one stage defender was left paralysed in a hospital bed, unable to close his eyes and shedding weight at an alarming rate.

He was confined to a wheelchair but has battled back and made his re-appearance for Liverpool in the Charity Shield in August.

Steffen, who has now recovered from cruciate ligament surgery on both knees, has revealed his shock at the affects of his friend's illness and how they both kicked a ball again together for the first time.

He reflected: "Everyone was telling me 'your cruciate ligament, one of the worst injuries in the world' but then I see Markus and then I know what is really serious.

"He was in a wheelchair for a few months and close to...maybe...you never know with that illness. That is why it is wonderful to see him back.

"It was a shock to see him, a friend, a footballer, in a wheelchair. He was so ill overnight, maybe he could have been finished with football, maybe he could die even, all that to a person so young.

"Then you know what is important. It is wonderful to play football, wonderful to be part of Tottenham or, for him, Liverpool, but health is most important.

"We were together in a rehabilitation centre in Donaustauf and we spent a lot of time together.

"It was helpful for both of us. We played together in the German national team for a few years and we always had a good relationship. Honestly, I am very pleased for him, a friend and a very nice man.

"I can remember we had a training session not far from the rehabilitation centre when we both kicked a ball again for the first time.

"We were a little tired afterwards, a lot of mistakes, but we were so happy afterwards. That was a special day."

Babbel was on the bench for Liverpool's 1-0 win at Leeds last week - a win that took them top as Arsenal lost against Everton - and Steffen now hopes they can now pit their wits against each other at Anfield.

Steffen added: "It is wonderful to see him back in the squad. I still hope he will play from the beginning on Saturday especially as he didn't play in the Champions League on Tuesday, perhaps he will play against us.

"We will then have three Germans on the pitch with Didi Hamann as well. It would be nice to see Markus out there because we had a bad time together and now we are back and for both of us, it will be special day."