Chelsea’s first black player Paul Canoville has thanked well-wishers as he recovers from complications following emergency surgery last month.

The 58-year-old branded his latest health scare his “closest call yet”, having battled drug addiction and cancer following his football career.

Canoville remains in hospital but is off the critical list and said to be making good progress.

“I am truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and good wishes sent to me and my family,” Canoville posted on social media.

“Please accept my heartfelt love and gratitude to each and every one of you who had me in your thoughts and prayers.

“Although this has been my closest call yet, the positive vibes, love and prayers of you all have seen me through.

“It’s a long way to my full recovery but I’m here. Thank you for believing in me and I can’t wait to see you all.”

Canoville graced the Blues with distinction between 1981 and 1986, facing up to severe racism and bigotry while acting as a trailblazer for his community.

The Southall-born winger runs the successful Paul Canoville Foundation, working to build better lives for London’s youth.