Hartson back at the Boleyn

John Hartson was a welcome sight at the Boleyn Ground during last Sunday's FA Cup tie with Arsenal.

The former West Ham United and Gunners striker was in high spirits and took some time out from his media work to thank the West Ham United fans who have sent him good wishes during his recent illness.

"I've had unbelievable support from West Ham fans, and from those from all my former clubs. I've had great support from the likes of Cardiff City and Rangers, too," Hartson said.

"I've been inundated with words of support from both inside and outside sport, and it's been a great help for me and my family at a difficult time."

Hartson was diagnosed with cancer in July last year and has been undergoing chemotherapy and following some positive news earlier this month, the 34-year-old is even more determined for the months ahead.

"I'm OK now. I'm feeling much stronger. I've got a bit of surgery early this year on my brain and my lung, but the chemotherapy seems to have really kicked in and hopefully I'm going to be really good with it all.

"I've got this surgery to look forward to now, but once I've got that out of the way, I'm hoping to go from strength to strength.

"I feel quite strong. I'm keeping myself busy doing lots of TV, radio and other media work. Fingers crossed, everything is going in the right way for me."

The former Wales international scored 33 goals in 73 games for the Hammers and was the second highest scorer in the Premier League in his first full season with the club.

Although his long-term plan is to get back on the training pitch to pass his footballing knowledge on, at present he is content keeping busy with his media work.

"For now, I don't feel strong enough to go out on to the training ground every single day. I've done all my coaching badges, so I'm fully badged up with my C, B and A licences.

"Going on the television with Andy Townsend and Matt Holland and doing the radio is the next best thing to playing and coaching. Being at the ground and being involved is the next best thing to playing and if I can't play and coach because I don't feel physically strong enough yet after my treatment, that is the next best thing for me.

"Long term, I'm hoping to get in somewhere managing and coaching, but that could be years down the line yet."