Football was Silva's 'escape' after son's premature birth

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Manchester City's David Silva used football as an escape last season while juggling his professional life with the premature birth of his son Mateo.

The Spain star spent much of 2017-18 travelling to and from his homeland, as Mateo spent the first five months of his life in hospital.

Despite that tough period, Silva still played a pivotal role in City's record-breaking Premier League title win and EFL Cup triumph and showed off his son to the Etihad Stadium crowd in last month's 6-1 thrashing of Huddersfield Town.

"It was really difficult," he said to BBC Sport. "It was so tough, him being in hospital for so long. Besides, he was in Spain, meaning I had to travel a lot and could hardly train.

"I didn't sleep much, I wasn't eating well, but luckily the team was doing really well and that helped me a lot."

Silva was interviewed by former England striker Gary Lineker, who described football as a means of escaping the difficulty of his son George's battle with leukaemia as an infant.

Agreeing with Lineker's view, Silva said: "Yes, I've said it before, the only time I could get it out of my mind was when I was playing. Then I would start thinking about everything once the match was over.

"It was a really good escape. Football is what we like and enjoy most."