George Michael was ‘secretly battling illness for years’

Singer tragically passed away on Christmas Day

We’re still in shock over the untimely passing of musical artist George Michael.

It’s been incredible to read about all the charitable acts he secretly carried out – for the sake of helping others, not for the glory of the positive publicity.

Now it’s emerged that the gifted singer, who is thought to have died from heart failure, was keeping something else to himself – an ongoing battle with his health.

It’s been reported that the 53-year-old had been struggling with lung problems for the past five years – ever since a bout of pneumonia almost took his life in 2011.

A source told the Daily Mirror: “His lungs never fully recovered. That can happen after a serious bout of pneumonia like George had.

“Sometimes it leaves the lung scarred or damaged, which can lead to a loss of function.

“Part of the lung basically doesn’t work anymore.

“It can leave you feeling breathless, as the lungs have a smaller capacity than before.”

Speaking of the pneumonia attack, during which he was placed in a coma while medics performed a tracheotomy, George admitted: “Yes, it almost killed me.

“On a subconscious level it was very frightening and I’ll probably never feel quite as safe again.

“But oh my God, I was just so grateful to come out alive and very happy to get back to my home in London.”

Since the performer’s shock death on Christmas Day, tributes have poured on from celebrity friends, as well as his millions of fans worldwide.

His close friend and former bandmate in Wham! Andrew Ridgeley posted to Twitter:

“Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog.

“Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx”

Fellow popstar Boy Gorge said: “I am thinking of @GeorgeMichael’s family, friends and fans right now.

“He was so loved and I hope he knew it because the sadness today is beyond words. Devastating.

“What a beautiful voice he had and his music will live on as a testament to his talent. I can’t believe he is gone.”

Longterm friend Elton John wrote on Instagram: “I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist.

“My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans.”

Madonna wrote in a post on Instagram: “Farewell my Friend! Another Great Artist leaves us. Can 2016 F*** Off NOW?”