Diabetes and Professional Sporting Careers

“It’s like having a team-mate by my side.”

Would you say that about your diabetes? It’s an unusual viewpoint perhaps, but a positive way to think about it.

Uefa.com ran an article this week about Real Madrid player, Nacho – real name, José Ignacio Fernández Iglesias. The central defender, who also plays as a right or left back, has had type 1 diabetes since the age of 12.

When you have type 1 diabetes, it’s always interesting to read about people in the limelight who also have the condition.

When Nacho was first diagnosed, he ‘d already been on Real Madrid’s books for two years. His doctor told him his footballing days were over. However, three days later he saw an endocrinologist who said the opposite – he should keep playing football, as exercise is important when it comes to blood sugar control.

Nacho said that the extra care involved in taking care of yourself when you have diabetes does help his football career. Diabetes, he says, makes you take greater care with your diet and the way you rest. And it makes you more responsible.

The 27-year-old doesn’t take things easy when he’s on holiday either, choosing to cycle in the mountains or do duathlons and triathlons. He eats everything, but he says he is more careful about certain food types. His diabetes is under control, and he gets on very well with his doctor.

Talking to Gonzalo Aguado at Uefa.com, Nacho said: “[Diabetes] makes you a more responsible person and you look after yourself much more. I know it’s going to be there for the rest of my life – well, unless they find a cure. It’s like having a teammate by my side.”

Type 1 diabetes? Bring it on…