Madrid's Nacho on diabetes: 'I was told my footballing days were over'

In November, Real Madrid defender Nacho revealed that he had been diabetic since childhood. Here he talks about the fear that accompanied the diagnosis and how he turned it into a positive.

Nacho (Real Madrid)
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I was only 12 when I found out I was diabetic. I'd been on Real Madrid's books for two years and obviously it was a tough time. I remember going to the hospital – I was supposed to go to a tournament with Real Madrid but had to miss it – and I was seen by a doctor, not an endocrinologist. She told me my footballing days were over.

I had a really rough time that weekend. Three days later I saw Dr Ramírez, who would become my regular endocrinologist and whom I've grown very fond of. He told me the complete opposite: in no way was football over for me. In fact, it was essential I continued playing because physical exercise is very important. That Monday, my life started again.

Nacho (Real Madrid)
©AFP/Getty Images

Of course it's difficult, because you have to take care of yourself three times more than a normal person, but in a roundabout way I think that also helps. You have to take greater care with your diet and the way you rest. It makes you more responsible because you always have to carry your equipment [insulin, monitor, etc].

I have no limitations. I'm lucky enough to play football at the top level and I like playing all types of sport because it's very important to do physical exercise. I do a bit of everything. When we're on holiday, I like to cycle around the mountains. I do duathlons, triathlons ... diabetes doesn't prevent me from doing anything.

There are food types I need to be a bit more careful about, but I eat everything. I'm lucky it's under control and I get on very well with my doctor. As I said, it makes you a more responsible person and you look after yourself much more. I know it's going to be there for the rest of my life – well, unless they find a cure. It's like having a team-mate by my side.

Nacho was talking to Gonzalo Aguado