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There's more to Aston Villa's Ray Wilkins than meets the eye.

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Legendary coach and England player, Ray Wilkins speaks out on his battles with Ulcerative Colitis.

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Take one look at Ray Wilkins. If you're seeing the same guy I am, you'll be looking right at one tough cookie. The kind of guy who will beat you up at the pub if you're drinking anything with an alcohol volume less than half his age. He looks like he would smack ten shades out of you just for mentioning his lack of hair. He's a hard man, at first glance anyway.

What you won't see on surface level is that Ray is fighting a battle every day against the debilitating disease known as Ulcerative Colitis. It's not an uncommon disease, but Ulcerative Colitis can be hugely debilitating for anyone who suffers from it. You can't see it on skin, nor on the body of the person it affects (not right away, at least), which some may be thankful for. For others, however, Ulcerative Colitis can take its mental toll with possible embarrassing situations and irregular toilet trips becoming order of the day. UC along with Chron's Disease is one of the two forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that can strike at any part of the digestive system.

Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Villa's No.2 highlighted the issues Colitis has raised in his life. He also came close to having his colon removed due to the disease. Thankfully, Ray is one of few who can manage the disease with regular dose of medication. For now, at least.

"It's the most debilitating thing I've ever had. It's not fun to have to plan routes around toilet trips." - Ray Wilkins

I won't pretend to be an expert on the matter, but fortunately I know someone who is; Henry Evans suffers from a similar condition and has spent the past few years compiling his experiences with IBD into a short documentary that will show you exactly what UC and other bowel diseases are like to live with.

As for Ray? Villa Park is where he will make his last stand as he approaches age 60. Wilkins is a legend in English Football and he's already secured his place in history. Aston Villa will be the footnote on his terrific playing and coaching career. Anything Ray achieves from this point forward will be made even more incredible by the fact that he, like many others, took his life into his own hands and powered forward even though at many points along the way, his body - and his bowels likely wanted to say no.

Ray seems to be in a good place following his bout with Ulcerative Colitis, but this simply isn't the case for the other 261,000 people affected by Ulcerative Colitis. You can pledge your support to Crohn's and Colitis UK here.