Cameroon international Joel Tagueu has said being able to play football again despite being diagnosed with a heart ailment is a “victory”.
Tagueu’s heart defect was detected in the build-up to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and led to him being ruled out of the continental showpiece.
Nearly five months after his last game, the 25-year-old forward returned to the pitch on Sunday as he came on for Cruzeiro in the 77th minute of their 2-1 win over Corinthians in Brazil’s Serie A.
“It’s been a very difficult moment for me. I’ve had to wait for a month to get a final decision on my situation” Tagueu said on Thursday, in his first public comments since playing.
“I’ve had to consult several cardiologists across Brazil to get different opinions and I’ve been working with the best cardiologists in the country and I’m glad that everything went on well.
“Being able to play again is a victory and being able to suit up for my team is just like a dream come true.”
In June, when Tagueu was first diagnosed with a heart defect, he explained in an online video that it will require a surgery to remedy his ailment.
Fears over the striker’s health were heightened in light of the death several players with heart related issues over the last two decades including Tagueu’s compatriots Marc Vivien Foe in 2003 and Patrick Ekeng in 2016.
But the former Maritimo striker has now opted against surgery as he prepares for a relegation dogfight with Cruzeiro, who are currently 17th in the 20-team Brazilian top tier.
“My goal was to return to the pitch and having all these positives reports from the various cardiologists gives me peace of mind,” he insisted.
“I think as an athlete I’ve improved after the stint in Portugal. When I first came to Cruzeiro, I was young but now I’m older and I believe I can be of greater help to the team.”
“We have to focus as a team to get out of relegation. If I’m given an opportunity, I’ll do my best to help the team.”
Tagueu’s decision to return to action was triggered by a nod of approval from two of Brazil’s most renowned cardiology institutions.
“The medical protocol with the Cameroon team is different and because recently they lost a player due to heart related complications, they decided to drop Joel,” Cruzeiro team Doctor Sergio Campolina said.
“We have assurances about Joel’s health so we’ve decided to recall him to the team and we’re happy with this decision.”
Tagueu who has scored a goal in four appearances for Cameroon has spoken of his angst being dropped by the five time African champions for this year’s Nations Cup.
“I was shocked when I was dropped from the Cameroon squad for the Afcon in Egypt. But I was less anxious because the doctors were calm and said it was curable,” he explained.
“But other players in the past like Kanu or Abidal have undergone surgery for other health issues and have continued playing so I’m not worried.”
Tagueu, who netted 8 goals In 30 games last season for Portuguese side Maritimo, is poised for more game time on Sunday as Cruzeiro face Fortaleza