HE is the football star who knows only too well that there is more to life than the beautiful game.

For Saints midfielder Dean Hammond – who is on loan to Brighton this season – has spoken out about his baby’s recent battle with meningitis.

The father-of-two’s work/life balance was given a real sense of proportion when his son was struck down by the disease this summer.

It happened just before Hammond made the south coast switch when little Jude, now aged five months, was just three-weeks-old.

“Luckily he only had viral meningitis, not the bacterial one, but they treated it as bacterial, so he was in hospital for a week or so which was difficult,” said the 29-year-old.

“But my wife was amazing and there is nothing wrong with him now, thank goodness. The hospital in Southampton really looked after him and because of it we are closer as a family. My wife has a fantastic bond with him.

“It’s not something I would like anyone to go through but he’s fine now.

Football is a huge part of my life and when you are playing games it means everything but obviously when your family or kids are affected by something like that it puts things in perspective.”

Viral meningitis is the most common and less serious type of meningitis.

It is most common in children and is more widespread during the summer months.

Hammond, currently dividing his time between Brighton and the family home near Southampton, is now partway through what is his second stint for Albion.