Ex-Red who beat cancer facing another 'emotional' Champions League final v Real Madrid

Borussia Dortmund captain Emre Can is looking forward to another 'emotional' Champions League final against Real Madrid, six years on from his previous appearance in the showpiece event with Liverpool. 

Can, now 30, was a late substitute in Kyiv when the Reds were beaten 3-1 by Real back in 2018. The central midfielder had joined the Reds back in 2014 from Bayer Leverkusen after the club activated a €12 million release clause

He had spent several months towards the end of his final season on Merseyside suffering with a back injury, missing practically the entire knockout phase which included wins over Porto, Manchester City and Roma. 

The final would prove to be his last Liverpool game, opting to leave Anfield upon the expiry of his contract that summer and joining Juventus in Serie A. 

The Germany international later revealed that thyroid cancer had been detected during his Juventus medical examinations, for which he underwent surgery in October 2018. 

“I had thyroid cancer and I needed to undergo surgery urgently,” Can told DAZN last year

“This has changed a lot in my life. You can have a lot of money, you can have everything, but health is the most important thing. It’s part of life and I suggest everyone undergo screenings, it doesn’t matter how healthy one thinks he is, if you find out about these things in time, you can act. 

“I am so grateful to Juventus doctors. They called me two months after my medicals with the club. I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t even know what a thyroid was and I would never imagine I had cancer. The move to Turin was worthy, only just for this."

Emre Can

Emre Can

Can missed two and a half months of action while he recovered from his surgery, but bounced back to help Juventus win the Italian league title. His stay in Turin, however, was brief and he was on the move again halfway through the 2019-20 season. 

The former Bayern Munich midfielder opted to join Dortmund on a temporary basis with that move becoming permanent later in 2020 for a €25 million fee. Having renewed his contract last summer, which now extends to 2026, Can replaced fan favourite Marco Reus as club captain. 

And he now has the opportunity to exact vengeance on Real, who qualified for the final on Wednesday having beaten Bayern Munich in controversial circumstances. 

Can has been a key fixture for Edin Terzić's side throughout their fairytale run to the Champions League final, being ever-present throughout the knockout stages. 

He played all 180 minutes across two legs of the semi-finals, when the Yellow and Blacks defeated heavily-fancied Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on aggregate. 

After the game he reflected on his impending Champions League final experience, which will be a THIRD with his third different club. 

Can: If I talk too much I get emotional

Can was also part of the Bayern setup back in 2013 when they beat Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund at Wembley to complete a treble although he was not involved on the night. 

"It’s very different, I would say, because when I was with Bayern in the final I didn’t play, I was a young guy," Can told CBS Sports on Tuesday night

"I was in the squad but I didn’t play. With Liverpool I was a long time injured, I didn’t play the quarter-final or semi-final. 

"Now I am playing all the games and when you play it’s different and it feels different. I am [the] captain of this team and I am very proud. If I talk too much I get emotional."

It’s been a remarkable journey for Can, who now has a chance to get his hands on the trophy that eluded him during his Liverpool days. 

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