It was nice to see Aaron Ramsey again in an Arsenal shirt over the weekend, after recovering from that horrific injury he suffered at Stoke City last year. It reminds me of a similar injury which Eduardo suffered only a few seasons ago, at the time you’d be forgiven for thinking that Eduardo and Ramsey’s careers were over. And what of this weekend? Stuart Holden, the Bolton midfielder suffered a nasty injury, but as with Ramsey, the club will invest so much time into rehabilitating him, allowing a fast and steady recovery. These professional footballers have some of the worlds best at their side, aiding them and cutting down what should be career threatening injuries, into a few months at best on the sidelines.
For a young player, it is almost like a kick in the teeth. Injuries like these are often described as “freak” yet they happen on so many occasions, these kinds of injuries are simply part of the game. The problem with that, is what about the younger players? What about the Sunday league players? Those that grow up aspiring to be a professional dreaming of the day they can throw on the shirt of a legendary team such as Manchester United and be recognised on a global scale as a star.
Many, if not every single person who has played football, at any level, has had that same dream, that same aspiration of becoming a great. It’s obvious to see, the amount of boots that a player goes through, just to copy the greats. The replica shirts with star names emblazoned on the back, just to go to the park for a quick kick about.
It’s this amount of dedication that makes it all the more tragic if a player falls into the trap of being untouchable, only to be woken up from this dream in dramatic style – a horrific injury. There aren’t countless doctors and surgeons just a phone call away, and there is no doctor in the world who can cure the broken heart of a young footballer staring at the end of his career.
I have suffered from this same fate. Throughout my youth I played football at any opportunity. I represented local teams, even an Academy team at one point; I was floating on air it seemed. Then one day it all came crashing down. A fairly innocuous challenge, made as a desperate attempt to prevent an attack, left me in agony. My knee was literally destroyed, a torn Anterior Cruciate, a sprained Lateral. As I lay there, I knew it was over, I knew nothing would be the same.
6 months of rehabilitation, 6 months of sitting out. For any footballer, 6 months is a long time to be out of it. My dream was over. Even though I had recovered, I’d forever be scarred by that incident. Contrast my story to that of Rio Ferdinand last year, almost identical injuries at similar times, yet only one of us is fulfilling their dream.
For some of us that’s all it ever will be, all it can be.