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Former Hartlepool United star Lenny Johnrose fights motor neurone disease

Lenny Johnrose in action for Hartlepool United against Brighton in May 1993.
Lenny Johnrose in action for Hartlepool United against Brighton in May 1993.

Former Hartlepool United star Lenny Johnrose has revealed he is battling motor neurone disease

Johnrose, who appeared in one of Pools' most famous victories ever, has spoken for the first time about his fight against the brain and nerve illness in a candid interview.

He initially received treatment for what he thought was merely a niggling hand injury from doing somersaults at a school he was working at.

Johnrose, now 48, who played as a winger and striker with United, said: "Obviously it transpired that it was not the case and after a number of tests and investigations, etc, it was finally confirmed in March of last year that I had motor neurone disease."

With the detailed tests taking more than six months before reaching a final diagnosis, Johnrose told BBC Lancashire Sport how he started to research what might be wrong with him on the internet.

Discussing how he and his wife tackled the uncertainty, he said: "Every minute of every day it was on my mind. When we found out we both broke down but it was not the biggest surprise in the world."

Lenny Johnrose, centre, raises a glass in 1993 to toast Hartlepool United's sponsorship deal with the town's Camerons Brewery.

Lenny Johnrose, centre, raises a glass in 1993 to toast Hartlepool United's sponsorship deal with the town's Camerons Brewery.

While Johnrose was only at Hartlepool for less than two years, his 82 appearances and 16 goals spanned one of the more eventful periods in the club's tumultuous history.

He joined Pools for £50,000 during the 1991-92 campaign from Blackburn Rovers while the club were basking in their first promotion for 23 years to the old third division.

The following season saw them challenge again for promotion to the second tier while also famously defeating top flight Crystal Palace 1-0 at the Victoria Ground in the third round of the FA Cup.

Yet the January 1993 win was promptly followed by a collapse in the club's fortunes both on and off the pitch with Johnrose helping save Pools from relegation by scoring the only goal in an unlikely April win at fallen giants Stoke City.

He returned to his native Lancashire the following season for an undisclosed fee to join Bury and also played for Burnley and Swansea City before retiring in 2004 and pursuing a career in education.

Hartlepool United tweeted: "Best wishes to Lenny Johnrose from everyone at Hartlepool United."

More information about motor neurone disease, which prevents messages from the brain and nerves from reaching muscles, is available from the Motor Neurone Disease Association at www.mndassociation.org/ or by telephoning (01604) 250505.