Saturday afternoon… My favourite time of the week! We were away at QPR in front of the Sky cameras.
I’ve always loved playing at Loftus Road, a real old-school stadium with stacks of history! The fans are right on top of you and you can hear every single insult. The Wolves away support were as vocal as ever drowning out the home fans chants. After an uninspiring opening 45 minutes performance from ourselves where we conceded an early goal, we started the 2nd half well managing to draw level through a fortuitous James Henry strike. From that point on we began to dominate and you could see confidence flooding into the lads play, we created chances and should have been ahead.
I thought I had headed us into the lead only for the goalkeeper make a good low diving save around the 75th minute mark and then moving into the final part of the game I was adamant we were going to get the second goal and we won a free kick in the oppositions half. Kevin McDonald stood over it and he played a short pass to me. As I controlled the ball I saw I was being closed down from my left side, I manoeuvred the ball away from the challenge by dragging it away with my right foot and as I turned I got challenged by Tjaronn Chery, the QPR midfielder.
It was a challenge that happens countless times during a season with no other result than me bouncing back up to play on, but as this happened my left foot got caught under Chery’s right leg with no place to go. It was like slow motion, I felt my foot get into a position where it had no further to go and then…. The harrowing noise that any footballer dreads… CRACK! Within a split second my mind was racing through many different scenarios, I knew I had heard the crack, I knew I had agonising pain along the side of my foot but I wouldn’t admit to myself the reality of the situation because I knew the consequences. Phil Hayward, our head of medical came rushing to my side “Eddo, Eddo…. Where’s the pain?”
“Side of my foot, 5th met!” I replied anxiously.
“Did you hear a crack?”
“No, nothing!” I instantly blurted out. “The pain is in my ankle now, it will be fine, just give me a minute and I’ll run it off.” As I stood up Phil signalled to the Gaffer that I was struggling but to give me a minute. I was just hoping that my body’s pain sensors were lying to me and I’d be okay. As I got to the side of the pitch the Gaffer said, “Dave, are you going to be okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine” I quickly replied. I hobbled back onto the pitch.
I was swiftly escorted down the tunnel with Jaz Sodhi, one of our first team physio’s for a full assessment. Once back inside the dressing room I climbed on the treatment table, I straightaway said, “I’ve cracked my 5th met.”It’s amazing what the adrenaline pulsing through your veins can make you do! But as I stepped into a jog, I just felt crunching in the side of my foot, I felt sick! I turned around straight away and started slowly limping towards the tunnel and signalled to the Gaffer I needed to come off. I pulled my shirt above my eyes as I felt myself welling up. It’s a bizarre feeling, I was angry, how could I let myself get into that position? I should never be going for a short free kick! Why did I drag the ball back!? If I’d of scored my header then that scenario would never of even come about! All pointless arguments I was having with myself but the frustration was raw!
“Did you hear the crack?” Jaz replied.
“Yeah, I’m sure I did” I was finally accepting what had actually happened. As Jaz did his assessment, I was in quite a lot of pain and it was obvious from the tests he was doing that I had broken my 5th metatarsal on my left foot.
Jaz was keeping me positive, physio’s not only have to be experts in physiotherapy and rehabilitation but they also have to have good people skills, be a friend, even a councillor to a certain extent as keeping a player’s morale, positivity and work ethic at good levels during an injury will be key to how they return. We are lucky at Wolves that we have a great medical team, all of whom are excellent physios but excellent people along with it.
As I was waiting for the end of the game, I hobbled to the shower before the rest of the lads came in; I was unable to put any weight through my left foot at all. I showered and slowly got myself changed. I was asking Jaz how long the rehab would take if my metatarsal was broken and he indicated I was looking at 12 weeks, I quickly took to my phone and opened up my calendar to see where this would take me. I was hoping to see that I’d be back before the end of the season, the thought of not pulling on a Wolves shirt until the start of next season was gut wrenching but I was also thinking I need to available and playing to have a chance of be selecting for Wales for the upcoming Euro 2016.
Coming up to 30 years of age, I know my chances of playing at a major tournament are diminishing. After a mesmerising qualifying campaign of which I was heavily involved in, I have been so excited about having the chance of being selected for the tournament, I knew I had to be playing at Wolves, had to be playing well and need to be fit to be selected as we have an array of talented midfielders in Wales. I was thankful to see 12 weeks would take me to mid April, so even this soon after the injury I was adamant that if there was anything I could do in my power to get back in time and in good shape then I was going to do it! I knew there was nothing else that I could do apart from concentrating on getting fit and see where that takes me. Hopefully that place would be a play off campaign and a major tournament!!
After the game had finished and I had the usual well wishes off everyone, we headed back to the training ground. It was a journey where I chatted a lot to Tommy Rowe, someone who suffered the same injury this time last year, Tommy recovered in the 12 weeks and has had no adverse effects since so I was keen to pick his brains! I also spoke to Phil Hayward. Phil had spoken to James Calder who is a foot and ankle specialist in London and managed to book me in for a scan on Monday and surgery for Monday evening if the scan revealed the break. This was good news, if I needed surgery, then the sooner I could get it done meant the sooner I would recover and therefore be back on the pitch quicker. This shows what a privileged life myself as a footballer lives. Being able to have surgery 48 hours after an injury was amazing, I know of someone who suffered a anterior cruciate ligament injury the same weekend as Nouha Dicko suffered his. Nouha is now 4 months post op and the other lad still has to wait another month for his operation. It’s crazy when you think of it like that, and these are the sorts of things I will never take for granted.
Back at the training ground we have the luxury of an ultrasound scanner. So when we arrived back, Phil took me to have a scan of my foot, he told me that it will only pick up anything blatantly obvious so we might need to wait for the scan on Monday. Within seconds though, Phil turned the scanner’s screen towards me and said, “This white line running across the screen is your 5th met, it should be solid, but obviously its not!” Even though in my heart I knew I had broke it, to actually see it, glaringly obvious in front of my eyes was still difficult to take. But straightaway that gave me closure and a timescale. It is hard to have an injury with no end date, you always feel in limbo. But this gave me a definitive timescale to work towards; it was a positive I was taking from the news. I headed away from the training ground about 7pm knowing the next few months was all going to be about myself having positive mind-set!