Top footballer says type 1 diabetes should not stop you playing sport and having goals

by Barbara Hewitt on March 8, 2017

One of the world’s top footballers has talked about how he was told to give up the sport when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12.

José Iglesias, known as Nacho, a defender for one of the world’s top teams Real Madrid, had been on the books for the club for two years when he had to miss a youth tournament to keep a hospital appointment.

Football SoccerHe was seen by a doctor, not a diabetes specialist, who told him the condition meant that he could not have a career in football.

‘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,’ he told the UEFA website. ‘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,’ Nacho explained.

‘In fact, it was essential I continued playing because physical exercise is very important. That Monday, my life started again,’ he added.

In an inspirational interview he urges young people not to give up their dreams. ‘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,’ Nachos told UEFA.

He points out that having type 1 diabetes has not limited his ability to play sport at the very top level of the game. ‘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,’ he said.

‘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,’ he added.

He also explained how there are food types that he needs to be a bit more careful about, but in general eats everything. ‘I’m lucky it’s under control and I get on very well with my doctor,’ he added.

He believes that he has become more responsible because he always has to make sure he had his insulin, testing monitor etc. but it just becomes part of life. ‘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,’ he concluded.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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