Dominic Matteo ‘almost died’ before stroke of good luck led to rare brain tumour diagnosis

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Dominic Matteo, 47, was diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2019, after complaining about headaches and blurred vision just days before he was supposed to be flying to Singapore with some of his former Liverpool teammates to play in an exhibition match. Little did he know that if he had boarded that plane, he would have died.

It was a massive tumour, it’s scary when you see how big it was

Dominic Matteo

The former premiership footballer was lucky enough to get a brain scan, following a cancellation at the hospital.

It was there that he was told the devastating news that he had a rare cancerous brain tumour.

In the days after, he suffered a massive seizure, which would have taken place on the plane had he not visited the doctors, describing his luck as a “real case of sliding doors.”

He previously spoke about how the doctors knew something was wrong straight away.

“They wanted to test me at the hospital and test everything else so I got a full ‘MOT’ and straight away [they could see] that something was wrong,” he said on Sky Sports last year.

“The doctor said, ‘We need to see you straight away’, that’s how bad it was.

“It was a massive tumour, it’s scary when you see how big it was.”

He added gratefully: “The job that surgeons did and the people in Leeds who got me back to life… they really did save my life.”

However, his cancer continued to develop at terrifying speeds and even though the surgeons were able to operate on him very soon after his diagnosis, Matteo’s future was completely unknown.

Back to present day, thankfully he’s made a remarkable recovery, only losing the peripheral vision in his right eye and is learning to read and write again due to issues with his short-term memory.

And despite his horrific ordeal that saw him undergo a seven-hour surgery, it made the defender think differently about life and how so much of it is about timing.

“My future was very nearly taken away from me, and I got to a place where finding out about my birth mum just became more important,” he reflected.

“The one thing that worried me was upsetting Mum and Dad because they have been such a big part of my life, but they supported me.”

He features in the latest series ITV’s Long Lost Family, where the team searched for his birth mother.

“With what I’ve been through, timing has been so important,” he told Radio Times in a new interview.

“It focuses your mind. I found myself thinking, ‘If I’ve had something like this, what about her?’ I wanted to know that she was OK.”

Ironically, Margaret – the woman who had tearfully given him up for adoption in the 1970s – had watched Matteo play on TV completely unaware of their blood relationship.

“Thinking about it still gives me goosebumps,” he admitted.

Dominic’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.

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