Xavi hails Abidal example
Abidal was in fine form earlier this season, but was laid low in March when a tumour was detected in his liver. The French full-back was forced to have surgery to remove the tumour and has made a sensational recovery to start Barcelona's last two league matches.
Xavi says he has been amazed by his team-mate's rapid return to action ahead of this Saturday's UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley.
"He has shown he is an example to all humanity," Xavi said. "For everything he represents - his values, his competitiveness, his recovery, his involvement, and overcoming (the illness) and wanting to be back. You wouldn't have thought he had even had an operation."
Xavi praised Abidal's handling of his illness, saying: "I haven't lived a situation as bad as that - it was a question of life or death. Now he is back and he's just as strong as he was before the operation - it's amazing.
"He's an example for so many people. He transmitted such calm. We were more anxious than he was. His return is great news."
Abidal was suspended for the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United, which Barcelona won 2-0 in Rome to complete a famous treble, and Xavi says the Frenchman is determined to feature this time around.
"He is training well, he is looking strong and he is excited," he said. "He missed the final last time and the (Copa del Rey) final last month, so he has that thorn in his side."
Abidal, meanwhile, admits he feels ready to start at Wembley. "I have played from the start in the last two matches and I felt good," Abidal said. "And while it's true that those games didn't have the same rhythm as the next one will have, I feel I am ready."
Barça coach Pep Guardiola is believed to be reluctant to field both Carles Puyol and Abidal, the pair having only recently returned to fitness, but the Frenchman says he is just happy to back, whether he starts or not.
"I was two months without playing, but I worked hard to return and I am happy to be part of the group," he said. "Mentally I was strong. It's not easy but I was determined to come back from my illness. Luckily everything went well and I was able to return. It will be a special final and I'm ready to help out, whether it's starting or playing a few minutes."