Express & Star

Carl Ikeme My Story: Wolves star on his leukaemia battle and the future

Wolves hero Carl Ikeme admitted he thought his leukaemia diagnosis was a ‘death sentence’ – but is now looking forward to a bright future and even considering a return to football.

Last updated

The 33-year-old former goalkeeper was forced to retire from playing last year due to his battle, where doctors put his chances of survival at less than one in three.

Ikeme reveals his initial devastation at his diagnosis in his new book Why Not Me? – which will be exclusively serialised in the Express & Star next week.

In the book, he recalls: “The Doc told me it was going to be a very tough year for me, and for my family.

“I can’t remember much else, but he must have made himself clear, because when we finished the conversation I knew exactly what was happening. And exactly what was to come.

“And then, I just started crying. Sat in my car, face flooded with tears. I had cancer.”

Carl Ikeme's book Why Not Me? written with Paul Berry

After a year-long battle with leukaemia and following intense chemotherapy, Ikeme was told he was in ‘complete remission’ from the disease.

And now he says he is open to a Molineux comeback, in a coaching or mentoring capacity eventually.

“With football, last year, it was not something I envisioned going back into,” said Ikeme. “Now this year, slowly, the taste is coming back.

“It’s not fully there yet, I’m not too sure, but maybe, eventually, I’d like to be involved at some level.

“I don’t know if it would be full-on or full-time, but I’d like to do something around the club.

“The club have always been brilliant with me and said the door is open when I’m ready to come back.

"Everything is settled in my life at the minute, and I’m not quite ready to make a decision.

"When I decide I want to do it, I want to be able to do it to my fullest.

"Maybe in the near future, maybe into the next year, possibly.”

Ikeme joined Wolves at the age of 14 and had long been the first choice keeper before being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2017, aged 31, after returning abnormal blood test results from a routine pre-season check-up.

He has spoken candidly in the new book about thinking the diagnosis was a death sentence, but in June of last year, it was announced he was in full remission.

Why Not Me? goes into detail about the effects leukaemia had on him and his family, while also telling the story of growing up in Birmingham, being picked up by Wolves – where he made more than 200 appearances and won two promotions – and representing Nigeria on 10 occasions.

On a potential Wolves return, Ikeme said: “I’d like to be involved with the club. I think I could help in any sort of way.”