Football star Paul Scholes has revealed that his young son suffers from autism.
The disorder, which hinders communication skills and social interaction, is thought to affect around 0.2 per cent of the population.
And now former England and Manchester United ace Scholes has announced that his six-year-old son Aiden suffers with the condition and has learning difficulties.
The former Old Trafford playmaker makes the surprise revelation in his autobiography, Scholes: My Story, which is published today.
Despite his sporting success, Scholes has always been protective of his private life and shunned the celebrity lifestyle favoured by his team mates.
Writing in the Sun, the football legend revealed Aiden's struggle with the life-altering disorder, saying his son is 'in his own little world'.
'We hope his condition improves but we're not banking on it, just doing everything we can to make sure he has a happy life,' Scholes wrote.
'He has a load of people trying to help him, speech and play therapists for example.'
He added that Aiden has discovered a love of swimming, and said: 'He'd be swimming every minute of the day if he could and on holiday we even feed him in the pool.'
Scholes's other children with wife Claire, 12-year-old Arron and Alicia, 10, cope 'brilliantly' with their brother's ongoing condition, according to their proud father.
The footballer, who retired last year after 20 years at Old Trafford, has been described as 'undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation' by French hotshot Zinedine Zidane.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder believed to be genetically transmitted. Symptoms of the disorder usually start appearing in children before the age of three.
It is far more common in boys than girls, with a male to female ratio of more than four to one.
People who have autism find it difficult to communicate with others and generally have low empathy skills. They also often show obsessive and repetitive behaviour.
Children with autism usually cannot adapt to independent living as they move into adulthood.
Other famous figures whose children are autistic include Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta, whose son Jett died in 2009.
The young son of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow and his reality TV star wife Sally has also been diagnosed with the condition.