Former footballer Joe Thompson says ‘miracles do happen’ as he shares family’s baby joy after cancer battles


Former Rochdale AFC footballer Joe Thompson said ‘miracles do happen’ as he proudly revealed he and his wife are expecting a baby later this year. Joe and his wife, Chantelle, are parents to daughter Thailula Lily, but last year revealed the heartbreaking loss of a baby boy.

Joe, who twice battled back from cancer to play for his boyhood hometown club Rochdale, said in May 2021 their son Dre’s heart had stopped beating before he was born. Now he’s shared the wonderful news that ‘baby Thompson’ is due in August.

In a social media post inspirational Joe – who retired in 2019 after announcing he had ‘battled through some of life’s hardest challenges, and managed to overcome them’ – said his family had gone through ‘years of IVF’. He also shared an image of beaming Chantelle and Thailula Lily, together with a hospital scan.

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His family, said Joe, had been ‘blessed with a natural miracle baby’. The 33-year-old former Dale midfielder and winger said in a Twitter post: “Miracles do happen.

“After cancer twice, a stem cell transplant, years of IVF and the heartbreaking loss of our baby boy Dre last May. We’ve been blessed with a natural miracle baby! I never make promises I can’t keep! Happy Tears.”

And on Facebook he said they were told a natural pregnancy wouldn’t be possible because of the stem cell transplant he underwent.

He posted: “Baby Thompson due in August. Connecting your emotion to your vision, results in miracles. After years of IVF and the heartbreaking loss of our son Dre last year. We have been blessed with a natural miracle baby!

“Never let anyone define your destiny they said it can not be done! They said a natural pregnancy wouldn’t be possible after a stem cell replacement but here we are defying the odds! The rise of the Phoenix.”



Joe battles Tottenham’s Erik Lamela in a famous FA Cup clash in London

Joe, a former Manchester United youth player who also turned out for Tranmere Rovers and Bury, beat nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014 after six months of chemotherapy. But in March 2017 he confirmed that the cancer had returned after a tumor was found on his chest.

He stopped playing while he underwent more treatment – including a stem cell transplant – and was told he was in complete remission again after fighting back with the support of his wife, daughter, then Rochdale manager Keith Hill and his team-mates. He returned to football – and Rochdale – in December 2017.

At Spotland, Joe will always be remembered for his fairytale strike against Charlton Athletic in May 2018, which kept Rochdale in League One and sent rivals Oldham Athletic down to League Two – a goal he said ‘meant the world to me’.

He made his debut in May 2006 before signing professional terms and in total, made 182 appearances for Rochdale, scoring 19 goals.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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