Andrew Cole: Former Manchester United and England star has kidney op

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Media captionI denied I was ill for ages - Andy Cole

Former Manchester United footballer Andrew Cole has undergone a kidney transplant operation.

The 45-year-old, who also played for Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers, suffered kidney failure after contracting an airborne virus in 2015.

The operation at Manchester Royal Infirmary was part of his treatment for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a spokesman for Manchester United said.

He added that Cole would be "taking a break" from his club ambassador role.

The illness is a leading cause of kidney failure in adults and causes scarring in the organ.

Requesting the former England striker be given "privacy" during his recuperation, the spokesman added: "Andrew and his family would like to thank the club and fans for their support."

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Image caption Cole made 15 appearances for England and played for 12 clubs

Speaking in 2016, Cole said kidney failure had been "tough to accept".

"Putting on all the weight has been the toughest part," he said.

"When I retired, I promised my kids I will never put on weight because when [footballers] retire they eat and drink.

"Seeing the change in my body, that has been tough, it wreaks havoc with yourself. You get comments like, 'Andy Cole's let himself go, who ate all the pies?'"

The forward, who scored 121 goals in 275 appearances for the Old Trafford club, played for 12 clubs in his career and made 15 appearances for England.

He remains the third highest scorer in Premier League history with 187 goals.

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