I almost died, says emotional George Michael

23rd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

George Michael fought back tears Friday as the British singer conceded that he had almost died after contracting severe pneumonia while on tour in Austria.

Appearing weak and struggling for breath, the 48-year-old told reporters outside his London home it had been "touch and go" at times during the month he spent in a Vienna hospital.

"It was by far the worst month of my life but I am incredibly, incredibly fortunate to be here," said the former star of 1980s pop duo Wham!, following his release from hospital on Thursday and return to Britain.

"We played it down, I did not want to worry my fans too much," Michael admitted as he stood in front of a Christmas tree in the upmarket Highgate district, wearing dark glasses and a scarf.

The dramatic statement will shock fans after Michael's agents spent the past few weeks downplaying speculation he was seriously ill despite the fact his pneumonia forced the cancellation of part of his tour.

Looking gaunt, the "Careless Whisper" singer said that he was still "very weak" but added that he felt "amazing" and lucky to have survived.

The singer, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, appeared on the verge of tears as he spoke of his gratitude towards the medical staff who saved his life.

"I spent the last 10 days since I woke up literally thanking people for saving my life, which I have never had to before and I never want to again," he said, his voice cracking.

The pneumonia forced the singer to cancel his "Symphonica" tour, having already performed 45 shows. He had been due to give a concert in the Austrian capital when he was admitted to hospital.

He promised Friday to re-arrange the concerts -- and also said he wanted to perform for the doctors at the Austrian hospital who treated him.

Michael, who has regularly been caught up in scandals and spent a month in prison last year for driving under the influence of drugs, also claimed that he was a "new man" following his near-death experience.

"If I wasn't spiritual enough before the last four or five weeks, then I certainly am now," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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