Fight for life

Johnson opens up about his son's debilitating illness

Last Updated: 14/08/12 11:44am

Each week Super League Super Men features a player whose past challenges have shaped their present and made them sporting heroes to many.

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But this week we feature a man whose biggest challenge is very much in the here and now.

Andy Johnson enjoyed a fruitful Super League career, starting out with his home town club Wigan, and then going on to have spells with Huddersfield, London Broncos, Castleford and Salford.

He scored a try in a Premiership Final at Old Trafford, and was one of the select band of English players whose team won a game against Australian competition in the 1997 World Club Challenge.

He also set up his own business so that when he retired he would have a secure future with his family to look forward to - but Andy and his wife Alex have been dealt a devastating blow.

Their four-year-old-son, Jack, has been diagnosed with a condition that will drastically shorten his life expectancy; he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which means his muscles will gradually fail, until he is no longer able to walk, talk and breathe.

The rugby league community has rallied around to help support a charity set up by Andy and his family, to raise money for research into the condition, so that there is hope for Jack's future. One in 3,600 children will suffer from Duchenne, which affects mainly boys.

On Thursday, Andy talks to Brian Carney about his career and the challenges now facing his family.

It is an emotional interview, but one which shows the hope and determination of a former league favourite to give his child a chance to live a long and happy life.