The oldest footballer in the country has tackled his hardest opponent ever… cancer.

And for Dickie Borthwick, 76, the beautiful game has proved to be a lifesaver in his battle against the disease.

Dickie first noticed something was wrong when went to his doctor with a lower back injury. The medic decided to do some routine blood tests and the harrowing diagnosis was made – Dickie had prostate cancer.

Following the diagnosis a year ago Dickie, who will celebrate his 77th birthday next month, underwent a series of radiotherapy treatments.

He says the dream of playing football again helped him through the many dark days and more than 40 hospital visits.

Kicking into touch the dreaded cancer, Dickie was again playing in Weymouth at the weekend in his midfield maestro role for his local veterans’ team.

He said: “I have played some hard opponents in my time, the cancer treatment was tough but I was so determined to get through it and play football again.

“My love for the game certainly was driving me on to beat it and I have done that.

“My desire to still be the oldest footballer in the country played such a great part in my psychological battle with it and here I am playing again. I just love it.”

Dickie added: “If it wasn’t for football, I may not be here. As after getting a football injury and lower back pain my doctor suggested I have a blood test and from that they picked it up so football has also been life-saver too.

“If you can, do get a test as soon as you suspect something. I had back pain, who would of thought it?”

As well as being known as the oldest footballer in the country he has also been recognised by the National Football Museum in Manchester, as a banner of him playing football is proudly fluttering at the main entrance and he was invited to attend the official opening night.

Dickie started playing in a youth team in 1947 at the age of 12 and since then he has collected dozens of pictures of the many teams he has played with over that period to prove his record.

Born in the same year as 1966 World Cup winners, Jack Charlton and Ray Wilson, Dickie thinks that Jack’s brother Bobby Charlton is the best ever.

“He is the tops as far as I am concerned, a fantastic footballer and a great ambassador for the game. I would love to play alongside him, if he wants to turn out for us.”

He has also been known to play in football matches with his sons Gavin and Glenn.

“I am just chuffed to be here, still playing knowing that I am still the ‘Oldest Winger in the Town’ and the country,” said Dickie.