Dylan Tombides isn’t your average teenage footballing talent
Having joined the Hammers at aged 15 with his brother Taylor after impressing for Australia youth in Hong Kong he was cruelly diagnosed with testicular cancer at 17. Every day he walks into the bathroom and staring back at him in the mirror is a 12 inch scar on his stomach which he has received from one of his many operations. He was on the cusp of glory as he was welcomed onto the bench by Avram Grant at 17 for the club’s last home game of the season against Sunderland.
With the smile still beaming on his face, he got onto the plane to Mexico readying himself for the under 17s World Cup. Following a 4-0 win against Uzbekistan, the young Australian trudged off to a routine drugs test.
Weeks later he found out the news that would change his life for ever. Recounting the moment to the Daily Mail in an interview in 2012, Tombides said; “It was only when I took the phone call in Cancun that I realised just how serious the condition was. I had the blood tests and CT scans when I got back to England and they told me I needed to have a testicle removed immediately. I just accepted it. I mean, it was hurting me so much it seemed sensible.”
It was news that shocked the West Ham faithful. One of our own, at such a young age had cancer. His story is an inspiration to us all. A humbling tale of a young man delivered with the worst possible news.
He remembered the moment he was hit in the groin in a fixture for Australia against Brazil. He was in pain, but had no clue he had cancer. “All I ever wanted to be was a top professional footballer with West Ham. I copped one in my groin against Brazil at the World Cup and I knew that I had a problem, but I had no idea it was cancer” he also told the Daily Mail.
After months of treatment, the Aussie made an emotional comeback in the instantly forgettable 4-1 defeat in the Capital One cup tie against Wigan in September 2012. Following the clash, he tweeted a humbling and honest verdict. He said: “To be involved tonight and get on the pitch while going through treatment is so rewarding shame about the result but we move on #BigPicture”.
A year later, and after yet more surgery he is back in claret and blue and fighting fit. He now regularly plays for the development squad and scored the goal of the month in a recent vote on WHUFC.com for his delightful dink in the U21s friendly clash over Colchester. Now fully recovered, Tombides is at the heart of the “One for the Boys” campaign which made a special appearance in Stratford Westfield alongside many other big name stars.
He was quick to praise West Ham for helping to raise awareness of male cancer.
“Football is watched by millions, especially men, so when a football club like West Ham lend their support in whatever way possible to campaigns and awareness programmes like this, it means a lot and we can get our message out to many more men” he told West Ham TV. Once tipped by legendary Academy director Tony Carr to be the next big thing Tombides is now well on his way to recovery and ready to grab his new chance with both hands. Here’s hoping we see him amongst the goals sooner rather than later.