Abidal makes euphoric Barcelona return during Mallorca win

The Frenchman made a triumphant comeback at Camp Nou after missing 14 months following a liver transplant on a night Cesc Fabregas struck a superb hat-trick
Barcelona defender Eric Abidal made a long-awaited return to action after recovering from a liver transplant added more cheer to the party atmosphere following the Catalunya club's 5-0 victory over Mallorca on Saturday.

The 33-year-old came on as a 70th minute substitute for Gerard Pique to rapturous applause - not just from the Camp Nou faithful but also the traveling Mallorca support.

He pulled off his jersey after the match to reveal a shirt reading 'merci' in a tribute to his cousin who had donated part of his own liver and, after the match, the Frenchman thanked Gerard again as well as targeting a super 2013 with Barca.

Abidal told Canal +: "This is special for me after a year out. Thanks to my cousin and all the people I met in the hospital. They were all important.

"I can fight, I will always fight - and I'll try to do my best. Let's hope it's a great year. Without my cousin I wouldn't be here.

"My advice to people with in the same situation is to fight hard, to be grateful to God and to pray a lot."

Abidal's return for Barca after 402 days out marked the first time he has appeared for the Blaugrana since last featuring for them in February 2012, after which he was forced into a hiatus owing to the operation conducted in April.

The defender added to Barca TV: "I feel great. Apart from my family, football is my life. I didn't want to retire without having played again.

"If I can, I will continue playing for one or two more years. If not, you can hire me here at Barca TV!"

Reports claiming the full-back could appear against Gregorio Manzano's men after featuring for Barcelona's B team gained momentum when former France international Luis Fernandez speculated as much.

After being named as a substitute in last month's 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo, his run-out against the Vermilions is his first appearance of 2013 as well as his first game under Tito Vilanova's reign.