More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Artero plans to play by end of year

Alan Pattullo
Tuesday, 18th September 2001
The Scotsman

Dundee winger Javier Artero, diagnosed as suffering from multiple sclerosis in August, has spoken for the first time about his prognosis, with the player eyeing a return to training as soon as next month.

Artero, back in his Spanish homeland, says he has recovered well from the disease of the nervous system, which struck him down on the eve of the new season. However, he admits to fears regarding ever being able to recapture the form that made him such a favourite at Dens Park, with the disease having ravaged his body in its early stages.

"I felt very bad at the onset of the disease," the 26-year-old recalled. "I didnít know what the matter was with me, whether I had a tumour or something similar. I suffered some terrible dizzy spells and I was unable to move my eyes. What happened to me was bloody awful."

However, inspired by the level of support he has received from not just the Dens Park clubís fans, but everyone in Scottish football, Artero is determined to make his comeback by the end of this year in the dark blue of Dundee.

"Thankfully it has turned out to be the mild form of sclerosis rather then the degenerative variety," he continued. "It affected my optic nerve and the feeling in my right hand, but not my motor nerves. I am now over the worst and feel very well. I have been able to walk around and I plan to start doing runs on Tuesday."

Arteroís last games for Dundee were in the Intertoto Cup against FK Sartid of Yugoslavia, the player having returned early from honeymoon with new wife Deborah in order to prepare for the June fixtures. He has become something of a folk hero to the Dundee support, signing for a then-record fee of £300,000 from Argentine club San Lorenzo last year.

A popular figure in the dressing room, Beto Carranza, a winger on the opposite flank, has taken to wearing Arteroís jersey below his own, so that when the player returns "it will seem like he has never been away". This might be sooner than expected.

"The hospital is due to discharge me on 25 September, and I hope to go back to Scotland in the first week in October, even though I donít want to set myself any deadlines," Artero said.

He did, though, express some caution, with the nature of the disease such that you can never truly say it have been overcome. "My one fear is that I will not be able to return to playing as I did before," Artero, a lightning fast winger, admitted. "Nobody knows whether I will suffer another outbreak. But thanks to a new drug, the chances of it not returning are very good."

With manager Ivano Bonetti having already stated his squad is too small, the addition of Artero would be a blessing, though a club spokesman said the decision regarding his return will be left entirely up to the Spaniard and his doctors.

However, Dundee have moved in the transfer market in the wake of Saturdayís 4-0 home defeat to Celtic, tying up two further Argentines on three-month contracts. One, Beto Naveda, is no stranger to the city, having been released by Dundee United at the end of last season.

Navedaís fellow-countryman Lucas Gatti has also joined Dundee, and both will be added to the squad for this weekendís trip to Kilmarnock. But one player who will not be involved in Ayrshire is centre-half Chris Coyne, who yesterday moved to Luton Town for a £50,000 fee.