Paddy McCourt reveals wife's successful brain tumour operation
Ex-Celtic footballer Paddy McCourt has told of his wife's diagnosis with a brain tumour.
Last month, the 32-year-old left League Two side Luton Town by mutual consent to return home.
But the ex-Derry City winger said when his wife, Laura, was diagnosed, everything paled into insignificance.
"I called Michael (O'Neill), explained what had happened and told him I wasn't going to be available for the Euros," he said.
"When something like that happens, your only thought is for your family."
McCourt told the Times that his wife was returning home from a holiday when their life was turned upside down.
"The flight landed at Gatwick and was taxiing to the airport when she had a seizure on the bus," McCourt said.
"Paramedics were called to the scene and they rang me.
"They said they were going to send her to East Surrey Hospital. Naturally, I was very concerned.
"Within 48 hours it came back that they had found a brain tumour," he said.
The doctors told the couple they needed to operate on the tumour and remove it as soon as possible.
Although the tumour was benign, it was growing. The date for the operation was 9 June, the day before Euro 2016 started.
McCourt said Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill told him to be there for his wife and 'don't even think about Euros'.
"Laura didn't need the attention it would have created if he had said what was really happening," he adds.
The operation was successful and Laura has now been given a positive diagnosis.
"It was absolutely nerve racking," he said, "but thankfully we were given the best possible news afterwards, which was that everything had been positive.
"Laura is now recovering and we're told that in four to six months, please God, she will be completely back to normal."