Gary Mabbutt Biography


Claim to Fame: English football player
DOB: August 23, 1961
Diabetes Type: 1

A native of Bristol, England, Gary Mabbutt is regarded as one of the best defenders in the history of European football. He began his professional football career at age 16 with the Bristol Rovers, with whom he stayed until he joined the Tottenham Spurs in 1982. With them, Mabbutt scored 38 goals for the team, and won the Union of European Football Associations Cup in 1984, as well as the Football Associations Challenge Cup in 1991. In 1994, Mabbutt was honored by Queen Elizabeth II as a member of the Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the game. He acted as captain of the Spurs from 1987 until his retirement in 1998.

It came as a shock to Mabbutt's team when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 17. Mabbutt initially struggled with his diabetes regimen, but as a young and highly eager player, he would do anything to keep playing football. After persevering through a strict diet and several hypoglycemic episodes during training, Mabbutt bounced back as a regular player on the team within 5 weeks of his diagnosis. Determined to become "the first diabetic to play for England," Mabbutt ultimately achieved the title by putting his dreams first and his diabetes second. Post-retirement, Mabbutt remains active in football; in 2010 he served as ambassador for the World Cup in South Africa, and is lined up to serve as ambassador for the 2018 World Cup in England.

Mabbutt continues to use his fame to contribute to the diabetes community. He is an honorary Vice President of Diabetes UK, and encourages everyone to learn about the disease by taking advantage of modern technology. In recent interviews, Mabbutt also expressed his pride in being a role model for children. He is famous for appearing on the British children's show, Blue Peter, to demonstrate (using an orange) how people with diabetes use insulin. Now over 50 years old, Mabbutt maintains his health and diabetes with four insulin shots per day and regular blood sugar tests. To people struggling with their diabetes, he encourages them: "Do not live your life round diabetes; let it live round you."

Find more athletes with diabetes.

Last Modified Date: May 22, 2013

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  1. BBC News. (Accessed 5/20/13)
  2. Mens Health Forum. (Accessed 5/20/13)
  3. (Accessed 5/20/13)

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