A PROFESSIONAL referee with cancer is holding a football tournament after being told he is in remission.

Michael Smith, 30, of Basildon, thought he had pulled a muscle during a match when he kept waking up in the middle of the night with back pain.

But after scans and visiting his doctor, he was told it was testicular cancer.

The football referee, of Great Knightleys, said: “Because I do a lot of football I just thought it was an injury.

“I had some scans at the end of January and got a call to go into the hospital and they told me it was testicular cancer.

“It had spread into my stomach and one lung. I’d only been having the pain since mid December so it had spread fairly quickly.”

Michael underwent three rounds of chemotherapy in just over two months, before he then had a testical removed.

He said: “I’m lucky really because most people go through six months of chemotherapy.

“On May 8 I went into the hospital and they said I was in remission. The tumour in my stomach had shrunk and I had an operation to remove a testical on June 21. I have my next appointment in November and hopefully the cancer in my stomach will have completely gone.”

Michael,aMetropolitan police officer, has been off work since his diagnosis.

It has also meant his professional refereeing has been put on hold for now – something which has been hard to swallow, having been promoted to covering the Championship as a linesman.

Michael said: “I was hoping to get back to football by Christmas, but I think I’m going to have to be more realistic.

“I had only been doing it for a couple of months before this happened. The football tournament was my mum’s idea.

The six-a-side tournament is being held at Basildon PO Sports and Social Club, in Gardiners Way, Basildon, on Sunday, August 24.

The event will raise money for charity Orchid, which helps men with testicular, prostate and penile cancer.

There will also be a real ale festival.

Although Michael will be there on the day, he is not sure if he will be strong enough to take part.

He said: “I would just really like to thank my family, friends and partner Marie McCabe for all their help and support.

It has meant so much.”

Teams who want to register can call 01268 270132 or email basildon.post.

club@gmail.com It costs £40 per team to take part.