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Willian battles on despite family tragedy

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Reigning Chelsea Player of the Year, Willian has not hit the heights of his powers so far this season, though he has started most games for Conte and did score a fantastic goal against Hull City last time out.  He dedicated that goal to his mother, who has been battling cancer back in Brazil (and knitting very special hats for her son, and her son's friends like David Luiz), just as he then dedicated Brazil's win over Bolivia on Thursday to her.

Willian did not start that game, getting dropped to the bench for just the second time since the 2014 World Cup.  In fact, the 28-year-old has not missed a single game since Brazil's humiliating exit from their home tournament, starting 27 of the 29 matches played by La Seleção since.  He was a favorite of Dunga's, the previous coach, and the new man in charge, Tite, has continued to play him.  Until Thursday, that is, when Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho started in place of his good friend.

The story in Brazil now is that Willian has to win back his place, but thanks to Neymar's suspension for yellow card accumulation, he will get to try to do so at the first possible opportunity, on Tuesday against Venezuela.  But he will be doing so with a heavy heart and a distracted mind, just as he's been for some time.

The caption is a Bible quote, Joshua 1:9:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

According to UOL, Willian's mother has undergone five surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy in the last two years to try to win her battle against cancer, but her condition has worsened in the past week.  Willian had previously expressed his utmost frustration at not being able to be by her side, with his job keeping him in England and away from her.  While he was able to pay her a visit recently thanks to the international break, he will soon have to go back and leave her again.  All the while, he has to concentrate on his job, his family, his livelihood, and his future.

I can't even begin to imagine how he's able to do this, and still put in a credible shift for both club and country.  The more I think about it, the more I am in awe of his strength, his courage, and his dedication to both his club and his family.

Stay strong, Willian!