Wales football legend John Charles has had part of his right foot amputated, a month after undergoing heart surgery, a family friend has revealed.
John Charles was about to appear on Italian TV when he was taken ill
In January, the 72-year-old former Leeds, Juventus, Swansea and Cardiff striker had a two-hour operation to clear his main artery at Milan's San Carlo Borromeo hospital.
But circulation problems meant blood was not reaching the end of his right foot.
One of Charles' close friends said doctors at the same hospital were forced to remove part of it.
"After heart surgery, there is often a problem with circulation - it was the same for John," said David Williams.
"The blood wasn't reaching the end of his foot and they were forced to amputate half of his right foot."
Mr Williams, 65, is visiting the hospital regularly to see Charles, whose wife Glenda has also been at his bedside.
"The doctors say he will still be able to stand and it's not like he has lost a leg," he said.
Italian fans labelled Charles the Gentle Giant
"Part of the foot is still there and he can be fitted with a prosthetic foot."
However, he added that progress was slow.
"Both he and Glenda would love to get home as soon as possible.
Charles was taken ill in January as he was about to appear on an Italian TV sports programme as part of a promotional tour.
Last month, the surgeon who carried out the emergency surgery said he was confident the ex-player would make a full recovery.
Professor Piergiorgio Settembrini, said Charles had been "in a bad condition" when he had arrived in the hospital because "a blood clot was enlarging quickly and had nearly cut off the blood supply".
Originally from Cwmdu near Swansea, the 6ft 2in, 14 stone star was dubbed 'Il Bon Gigante' or Gentle Giant by Italian fans when he played for Juventus.
The player also had 38 caps for his own country and took part in the 1958 World Cup.
More recently he has had to cope with two serious illness - blood cancer and a tumour of the bladder.