Former Barcelona assistant coach Juan Carlos Unzue has announced that motor neuron disease (MND) has been diagnosed.
Unzue revealed on Thursday that he was diagnosed in February with the rare neurological condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS), the type of MND that has suffered most.
There is no known cure for ALS which causes the death of voluntary muscle control neurons. Unzue said that he wants to increase awareness and research support.
“I maintain that I cope well, I feel fortunate to have led the life I have and now I feel blessed about what I can do about ALS, which is a disease that everyone can get. Together with the Luzon Foundation, I will try to help improve the quality of life. We want to build a set of competitions or activities that will enable us to raise money for research. Hopefully, we will find a solution in the not too distant future,” Unzue told a Camp Nou news conference.
During his playing days, Unzue represented Barca and Sevilla as a goalkeeper and was assistant to Luis Enrique at Camp Nou from 2014-17. He helped the team to win three Copa del Rey trophies, the Champions League, and two La Liga titles, .
Luis Enrique, now the boss of Spain, was among those present on Thursday, along with Barca’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu and some of the first-team squad.
Unzue said, “People are capable of adjusting to life. I have met other disabled people who, given the challenges, are very keen to continue living, because life is worth it.”
After leaving Barca, Unzue spent a season as Celta Vigo’s head coach, where he had previously worked under Enrique and was in charge of Girona most recently.
Barcelona has shown its support on Twitter for its former player and assistant manager, writing: “Juan Carlos, you have all our support and solidarity. Stay strong, coach!”
On Thursday Real Madrid stated support of the 53-year-old.