www.sportingbounce.com - Sporting Bounce
Posted 03/22/2022 in Category 1

The Changing Attitudes Towards Football’s Long-Term Injured

The Changing Attitudes Towards Football’s Long-Term Injured

We’ve all been guilty of it, calling a player a crock because he is always injured.

Some say there is no luck in injuries; it’s either poor preparation or technique. That’s certainly thought to be the case by some fans at League One team Lincoln City, who up until December had seen every single first team player miss at least one game with an injury. Centre back Joe Walsh came back from injuring one quad, only to injure the other one within three matches.

Whilst supporters see the impact that has on the team, they often do not see the impact it has on the player. More than any other athlete, footballers are viewed as commodities to be bought and sold, whether by the manager or on games such as Football Manager. When discussing their injuries, it is easy to dehumanise players to say things like ‘the manager should get rid’, as if they player were a defective electrical item or a dog-earned teddy bear.

They’re not; they’re people with lives, families, worries and concerns. Their entire career can hang in the balance, and the additional stress of the impact their absence has on their team can set them on a spiralling track of worry and concern.

“It’s crazy to think that you are going to be top again when you didn’t play a professional game or a high-level game for nine months,” Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk told Eurosport after his injury last season. “It’s been tough at times, but we try to manage everything with Andreas Schlumberger (Liverpool’ head of recovery and performance), who is in close contact with me.”

That contact can be vital, and the physio often doesn’t just fix broken bones and rehabilitate torn ACLs. They are also tasked with keeping a player positive, motivated and feeling a part of something. Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title whilst Van Dijk was injured, a burden he alone might have had to bear were it not for the excellent counselling he got alongside his rehabilitation. This season, Liverpool are second-favourites in the current Coral odds to lift the title behind Manchester City, with Van Dijk back and as good as ever. Had the human side of his recovery not been considered, that might not be the case.

One player who knows that all too well is Coventry City attacker Jodi Jones. He has suffered not one, not two, but three serious knee injuries in the space of just four years. In that time, his team Coventry City has risen from League Two to the Championship, and the London-born attacker could have easily given up on his career.

“There have been so many days where I just cried,” he told FourFourTwo magazine after his third comeback this summer. “The third time, I sat crying on my landing and said to my girlfriend, ‘I can’t believe it’.”

However, Jones also had a mentor, in the form of Coventry boss Mark Robins. He’s awarded the attacker two new deals during his time out injured, and the support of Adrian Viveash, the assistant, has also been important in the recovery. “I used to say to everyone when I came back from the injuries if I could compare it to something, I would be like being in jail, coming out and going back in.”

Jones is out of jail now, but back at Lincoln City, another player is just entering an ACL spell out; defender Lewis Montsma. He had been the subject of transfer speculation before his awkward landing in a game against Oxford ruled him out for the rest of the season, maybe the rest of 2022. What did the club do? They immediately handed him a new deal to cover the period of rehabilitation.

That’s indicative of how clubs, managers and, of course, sports psychologists treat injured players these days. It’s also a far cry from just five years ago when Forest Green Rovers forced their club captain to pay for his own knee surgery.

However, in 2022, the subject of player’s welfare during spells out injured is increasingly focused upon, leading to easier rehabilitation in terms of focus and mindfulness and physical fitness.

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay