Throughout my football career so far I have always thought I have been a very good professional.
When I was younger I would have the odd night out with my friends, lads holidays, takeaways and other little things but I always knew I had sacrificed a lot to make my dream become a reality. Along with a really good work ethic and a bit of luck I have seen myself play at levels I could only ever dream of.
However, since my operation 20 days ago, my dedication and discipline to every aspect of my life has gone onto another level. If I had of lived my last 13 years as I have lived my last 3 weeks then I know I would have been a better player, but unfortunately I also know I wouldn’t have had the mindset or knowledge at 18 to say no to a Domino’s once a week, a no to my favourite local chippy, or a no to a few pints with my mates.
That said, I am now 30 years old, fighting hard to be back playing for Wolves by the end of the season but also fighting hard to make a football dream come true by having the possibility of being selected for Wales for Euro 2016. All the sacrifices I am making now will be worth it 100 times over if I am fit and back playing by the end of the season. But, if I didn’t do everything in my capabilities to come back fit and strong and consequently then didn’t play for Wolves again this season and didn’t get selected for the Welsh squad due to that then I know I would never be able to forgive myself. So every morning the first thing I see when I walk downstairs and into the kitchen is a chalk board on the wall saying “Live a life of DISCIPLINE or you will live a life of REGRET! Its a saying which I have always liked but it has never seemed truer!
I will do everything in my power to be fit and playing well before the summer. I have always been very proud to represent my country, always loved being away with the squad and always given 100%.
During my early international years, we never really threatened to qualify, a few bad results early on in campaigns meant we were always playing catch up and by the end of the campaign our main priority would be to just try and improve our position hoping for a better seeding in the following campaign. Over the last few years though Welsh football has risen to phenomenal heights, it feels like the last 10 years or so has been all about gaining experience and confidence for this group of players, back room staff and loyal supporters to all come together and create history. We have some world class players in Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams but also have a squad full of premier league players. It is a dream for me to have been part of this campaign and played so many minutes. The atmosphere within the camp is always amazing, there is a passion which I have never seen to this extent of players and staff doing everything within their power to not let anyone down. So whether or not I make that squad to France, Welsh fans should know that you are watching a special group of players wearing the dragon proudly on their shirts.
Bringing myself back to the present, I have had a really good week at the training ground. My progress has been good and I feel I have made huge strides this week. My foot is now in an air cast boot, this means I can start putting some weight through the foot. Although my gym sessions haven’t eased up this week, not having to rely on the crutches so much means my arms haven’t been as constantly tired.
I also had my stitches out and the wounds are looking very good. I’m hoping that in another week they will be healed fully so I will be able to get into the pool and do some swimming. It will be nice to to have a change of scenery from the gym! The gym at the training ground is amazing, but after spending so much of your day in there it does get a bit repetitive. Even more so when the sun comes out. The gym overlooks the 1st team training pitch and sometimes it’s inspiring to see the lads out there training but other times it can make you feel quite down.
The sun was out on Thursday and the lads were buzzing around the training pitches. Inside, Nouha Dicko, Razak Boukari and myself were doing an arm bike/ rowing/ core circuit in the gym, trust me this isn’t as exciting as playing football outside in the sun! I have only been injured for 3 weeks but Nouha and Razak are recovering from bad knee injuries and have been in that gym for 5 months. In between sets of our circuit I sat down for a drink and I caught Nouha looking out of the window. I had to take a picture of him because it just symbolised to me how mentally tough it is being injured. You could see Nouha dreaming almost reaching out to just be fully fit and back out there playing again. All the injured boys work hard, but seeing how much effort Nouha and Razak put into each and every session, day after day inspires me to never give less than 100%. I can’t wait to see them back playing, Nouha has been great for Wolves, and it will be a travesty if Wolves fans didn’t get to see how talented and what a tremendous footballer Razak is!
I am already looking forward to Monday to get started on another week of progress. I’m 25% of the way there already! Thanks for all your kind messages and please, if there is anything you would like me to talk more in depth about let me know.
Thanks for reading again!