Former Carlisle United player Joe Thompson has revealed the heartbreaking news that he has cancer for a third time.

And the 35-year-old has pledged to fight the disease once again with the support of his loving family.

Thompson, who played for the Blues in 2015/16, has shared the news that Hodgkin's Lymphoma has returned.

He had treatment for the disease first in 2013 and again in 2017, making an inspirational comeback on the pitch before he retired in 2019.

Thompson, who has since worked as a motivational speaker, mentor and in the media, posted on X: "It's true I have cancer for the third time. But we’ve walked through darkness as a family before and we will do it again!"

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Thompsons in his latest fight. To donate click HERE.

"Anything received is with heart full of gratitude," he added.

In an interview with BBC Manchester today, Thompson said the cancer had returned aggressively, at stage 4, and said it had gone onto his lungs.

"Breathing becomes a problem, going to sleep can be difficult and just talking can be quite hard."

He also explained the difficult experience of breaking the news to his family.

News and Star: Thompson, right, played for Carlisle in the 2015/16 seasonThompson, right, played for Carlisle in the 2015/16 season (Image: Barbara Abbott)

"My little one's 18-19 months now, and she reminds me of my eldest a decade ago," he asid.

"You try and hide certain things but I'm a big believer that children pick up certain energies, they're not daft - she's seen certain things, like me being sick or relentlessly coughing.

"It's not nice. There are little moments when you catch her eye and try and reassure her it's going to be ok. But it's all new to her

"Telling my eldest with [my wife] Chantelle was one of the most difficult conversations ever, because we got to point where we were having to have certain conversations with specialists, oncologists, and doing research, and she was like, 'What are you looking at on the computer?'

"We thought we are going to need to tell her. When we told her, it was quite early in the morning, and she just ran off back into her bedroom [as if] it was a dream, a nightmare."

Thompson spoke of his determination to fight the disease again, with all the support possible.

"You've only got a certain amount of time on this earth, and I always think you want to make the biggest impact you can possibly do on as many lives as possible.

"I've got to lead from front. I am gonna need cavalry, and I'm ready for them to rise up and we'll just get through it again - and then we'll look at the future."

Thompson made 17 appearances for Carlisle under Keith Curle in 2015/16.

He is best known for his spells with Rochdale, the second of which saw him score a fairytale goal against Charlton Athletic to keep Dale in League One on the last day of the 2017/18 season following his return from illness.

Having started as a youth player with Manchester United, he also played for Tranmere Rovers, Bury, Wrexham and Southport.