A Wales international and Premier League footballer who kicked cancer has spoken about his experience for the first time - as he returns to the top flight.

David Brooks, 25, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in October 2021 just weeks after scoring a goal in a Euros match against Croatia.

Despite eating four meals a day, David struggled to play or put on any weight before his diagnosis - but has since made a comeback with AFC Bournemouth.

The Cherries' midfielder spent 18-months going through intensive treatment after his stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in October 2021.

Now he is supporting Race for Life in their efforts to fundraise for cancer research and treatment that saved his life.

David, from Warrington, Cheshire, was described as one of the 'brightest talents' in the Premier League just before he was diagnosed.

He said: “I remember at the Euros in the summer of 2021, I wasn’t starting or playing and despite eating three or four meals a day I wasn’t putting on any weight.

“Then I found I just couldn’t get my legs to take me where they needed to go. It was really frustrating because at that point, I didn’t know there was anything wrong.

“I went away to play with Wales and they do a medical check at the start of international duty and I explained to the doctor that I’d been struggling to sleep and had experienced some night sweats as well as a sudden drop in weight.

“Twenty minutes later he came to my room and said, ‘I don’t want to alarm you but everything you have described to me is a symptom of cancer.’

“It was a big one to try to digest and knowing you had to ring your mum and dad and tell them something so big when you still didn’t know for sure yourself, meant it was a very tough couple of hours.

“I went for a blood test that evening and had more tests the following day and within 24 hours I was back in London having a biopsy.

"We were yet to receive confirmation but the doctor told me that it did look like it was cancer and that I needed to prepare myself for that news.

“You almost don’t want to believe it. When you hear the word ‘cancer’ as a young lad you don’t expect yourself to be in that position where you need to know everything about it, unless you’ve had a relative that has gone through that process.

“The worst pops into your head because as soon as you hear the word ‘cancer’ you don’t think it can be positive in anyway and you look at the bad side of it. It was a difficult one to try to process.

“I’m not in touch with my emotions on a day-to-day basis but when a cancer diagnosis comes into play, it’s just very different. It’s difficult to stay composed in that situation but I never really let it out until I was on my own.

“Football was my life for 24 years before I was diagnosed and for a brief moment, in the grand scheme of things, football didn’t matter. It was about my health and my mentality.

“But to be able to play football again is a real blessing and I hope people will take part in Race for Life to support the kind of research that helped to get me back on the pitch."

David underwent six months of chemotherapy following his diagnosis and has since kicked his cancer - announcing to his team that he was cancer free the same day Bournemouth were promoted in May last year.

He's since returned to the pitch and is now working with Race for Life to support a series of 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events - which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.  

This is the 30th year of Race for Life and participants will receive an exclusive medal to mark the milestone.   

Anyone who joins before Sunday April 30 can claim 30 per cent off the entry fee* as part of a special sale by using the code SPRING30. 

Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in the South West, Elisa Mitchell, said:  “We are delighted to see that David has made a full recovery from Hodgkin lymphoma and has been able to return to the sport and club that he loves.

“We are grateful for his support for Race for Life and would love for as many people as possible to join us during our 30th year. Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way. 

“We want to make sure that everyone can join the Race for Life movement. Our participants come from different backgrounds, with different stories, but with one thing in common - the determination to help beat cancer.

"Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honour of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, or signing up to protect their own children’s future, everyone has a reason to Race for Life. 

“We’ve seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years thanks to the tireless efforts of researchers, but this can only happen with the continued support of fundraisers up and down the country. 

“Together we can bring about a future free from the fear of cancer. So we’re asking people: Who will you Race for?”