A MAN has thanked Southend United and the club’s former boss, Blues legend Chris Powell, for saving his life... after they helped him spot the signs of prostate cancer.

Keith Smith, who has supported the team for 25 years, was scouting the Blues’ website when he came across an article by Chris Powell relating to the cancer.

The 61-year-old from Basildon, diagnosed in May last year, explained: “I read in the article that one in eight men can have prostate cancer and was shocked at how common it must be. I worried when I fitted the symptoms, such as having a sudden urge to go to the toilet.

“I went to the doctors for a blood test and six weeks later I was told I had aggressive prostate cancer. They also found an unconnected cancerous kidney tumour too. My dad and uncle had prostate cancer, but I didn’t realise it was hereditary and never realised there were so many risks that I had that I should’ve really been checked out earlier, but I was so oblivious to it, I never knew.

"I was told the cancer had a severity of nine out of ten. So, if it wasn’t for Southend United, I’m not sure where I’d be.”

Since diagnosis, the father-of-three had his kidney removed and is continuing his prostate cancer treatment. Mr Smith began his brachytherapy treatment yesterday, which is a form of radiotherapy.

The grounds maintenance officer for Basildon Council, continued: “I was worried if I’d even be here at Christmas or how would I tell my children, it was a very scary time for us all.

“Chris and Southend United saved my life without a doubt, so to them I say thank you.”

Chris Powell, a long-standing supporter for Prostate Cancer UK, raised more than £14,000 by completing the 2018 London Marathon, and Prostate Cancer UK are the official shirt sponsors of the Shrimpers.

He said: “For me to meet someone who has been affected by my message and what I’ve done, it’s just blown me away really and I’m deeply honoured. It’s a great moment for me and that’s why I’ll continue to hammer home the message, and I want to make sure that Southend fans and everyone else don’t stop driving that.”

Keith will be supporting Prostate Cancer UK’s London March for Men event, which will take place on June 15 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.