MICKEY THOMAS has been overwhelmed with the messages of support as he faces the biggest battle of his life.

The Welsh footballing legend has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and will start having bouts of chemotherapy and radiography on Monday at Glan Clwyn Hospital in Bodelwyddan before having an operation in Wrexham later this year.

News of the 64-year-old battle against the disease broke last week when a JustGiving page top raise money for Thomas was set up.

Within days that had reached the £12,000 with Bryan Robson and Denis Irwin - former stars at Manchester United where Thomas made than 100 appearances - both pledging £1,000 each to the cause.

And the Fat Boar pub in Wrexham raised that more than £1,000 to add to the ever-growing fund.

Thomas, who kicked off his nomadic football at Wrexham, was at The Racecourse to watch the Reds' 1-0 win over Dagenham and Redbridge o Saturday afternoon.

And he has been shocked by the response.

"It's been amazing," said Thomas. "Some of the messages I've received has been emotional but I'm going to fight this and all those kind words have made me more determined than ever.

"Robbo and Denis Irwin have donated, Phil Jones too and I've had video messages from John Terry and Joe Cole.

"I had a chat with Wrexham's new manager, Bryan Hughes on Saturday, and to get a win gave me a boost.

"I only managed the first half because, obviously I get a bit tired. But Joey Jones was with me and everyone was wishing me well."

It's not just in Wrexhan and in his home match in Mochdre on the North Wales coast where people are rallying around to help one of football's most bubbliest characters.

Thomas played for Everton, Brighton, Stoke City, Chelsea, West Brom, Derby, Shrewsbury and Leeds as well as gaining 51 Welsh caps in a 10-year-stint representing his country.

"It was nice to get mentioned on the commentaries for the Manchester United and Stoke games on TV and it does lift your spirits because this has been a very difficult time," added Thomas, who nows the enormity of the battle ahead of him.

"I know I've got a serious problem. I know that and I've got a big fight ahead of me obviously.

"It's one that I've not foreseen coming, but obviously it's happening and I've just got to get on with it.

"It's quite scary so I've just got to wait and see. I've obviously got a lot of treatments to come and lots of chemotherapy and an operation to come as well.

"One thing I have to say is that the doctors and medica1 staff have been amazing too.

"I've always been a fit lad, happy-go-lucky if you like.

"But to see other people in hospital, suffering from cancer, it's a reality check.

"The doctors and nurses are dealing with 100s of cases and I can't speak highly enough of them.

"It's been quite horrific really. I've had a small operation already just so I can digest some food. I've not been able to eat properly for some time.

"I went to the doctor and said I wasn't feeling well. I couldn't eat, couldn't swallow. When I could eat I was getting sickness.

"I'm just grateful they found out what was wrong with me and now I've got a chance and I'm going to fight it all the way.

"I thank God that the tumour has been found and that's it not spread."