Amsterdam - PSV Eindhoven coach Phillip Cocu stands on the brink of title success in the Netherlands less than a year after he was forced to take time off to have a tumour removed from his back.
PSV are two wins away from ensuring a first Dutch league title since 2008, ending a dominant spell by arch rivals Ajax Amsterdam, and bestowing Cocu a championship in only his second season in charge.
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If PSV beat PEC Zwolle on Friday and second placed Ajax, who are 10 points adrift, lose at Heracles Almelo on Saturday, the title could come even sooner for the 44-year-old Cocu.
"It was a difficult time and even though it is more than a year ago now I still think back regularly to what happened," Cocu told Dutch media recently referring to his health problems.
"It will always be with me, particularly because it reminds me just quickly your life can be turned upside down. It takes so little for your life to change completely from one day to the next."
Cocu, who won 101 caps for the Netherlands and was on the books of Barcelona, had to take time off last March to undergo radical surgery to remove the growth but he returned to work in June.
"Such an acute medical situation affects everything from your family to your work and, of course, yourself. But I'm back at work and luckily all has worked out well," Cocu said.
"If we were going to be successful this year, then we laid the basis for that success last year with everything that we went through which ensured we became a real team."
Cocu, who won four league titles with PSV as a player, emerged from his medical trauma as the latest coaching talent from the Netherlands.
Compatriot Ronald Koeman has exceeded expectations in his first season with Premier League Southampton and Ajax's Frank de Boer is regularly linked with clubs outside the Netherlands.
Cocu's credentials are enhanced by how quickly PSV have risen to the top of the Dutch league after making a decision in 2013 to promote as much of the club's young talent as possible.
The youthful team struggled at the beginning of Cocu's tenure but they finished the last campaign strongly and have not looked back, forging a runaway lead and virtually dominating from the start of this season.
"I knew it would not be easy but we had to make a decision as a club in which direction we wanted to head," Cocu said.
Among the success stories is 21-year-old striker Memphis Depay, who is on course to be the first PSV player in 11 league seasons to finish top scorer.
"They are still more profits to reap from our method of development at the club," Cocu added. "PSV has always been innovative."