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He was the best driver of his generation, possibly the greatest ever to race, but five years ago after retiring from the sport he loved, Michael Schumacher was involved in a skiing accident that changed his life.
On December 29, 2013 while out skiing with his son, he suffered serious head injuries after falling in the French Alps, and underwent life-saving surgery after being airlifted to Grenoble Hospital.
It is believed that had he not been wearing a helmet at the time he would have died.
He remained in a coma for several months before being moved to Lausanne Hospital in Switzerland, three months later.
And though he is now out of hospital and being treated at his home near Lake Geneva, in Switzerland, still very little is known about how he is recovering.
On the eve of the 2018 F1 season a spokesperson for his family said: "What can be said is that the family really appreciates the empathy of the fans.
"The people really do see and understand (his health situation) is not to be shared in the public eye."
Today marks the former champion's 50th birthday and in a rare update about his condition, Schumacher's family released a statement and said everything was being done to help him recover.
It said: "You can be sure that he is in the very best of hands and that we are doing everything humanly possible to help him.
"Please understand if we are following Michael's wishes and keeping such a sensitive subject as health, as it has always been, in privacy."
To his adoring and passionate fans, he will always be remembered for his incredible diving skills which saw him claim seven Formula One World Championships.
The dad-of-two clinched his first two titles while driving for Benetton in 1994 and 1995, before making his big move to the Ferrari team where he enjoyed half a decade of success, winning five titles between 2000 and 2004.
He then joined Mercedes in 2010 before retiring two years later.
But during his career he amassed an incredible number of records, including the highest number of podium finishes, as well as the most Grand Prix wins with 91.
From today racing fans can access the Michael Schumacher app and visit the virtual museum to look back at the German's amazing career.
The family's statement went on: "The app is another milestone in our effort to do justice to him and you, his fans, by celebrating his accomplishment. Michael can be proud of what he has achieved, and so are we ... we want to remember and celebrate his victories, his records and his jubilation."
To this day he remains a giant of the sport, and one whose achievements are not lost on its modern stars, including current champion Lewis Hamilton, who, now on five championship wins and having smashed numerous records is following in Schumacher's footsteps.
Last year the Brit sent a special message to his hero, telling him it was an honour to match his pole position tally and encouraged him to keep fighting.
He wrote: "Michael, last year it was a true honour to equal your all-time Pole Position record of 68. Words can never describe what it felt like to reach an achievement of an all-time inspiration and hero. I pray for you and your family all the time. Keep fighting, Michael."
Ross Brawn, who was part of Schumacher's Benetton team in the 90s, told Press Association: "There's no doubt that Lewis and Michael are amazingly talented. In fact, it's their natural talent that unites them. The way in which they achieved their wins is where they differ.
"Michael treated his driving career as though it was a mission to which he dedicated himself completely from the first to the last day."
Happy Birthday, Michael. Keep fighting.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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