MAN City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has described in graphic detail the 276-day physical and psychological torture of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ALC) injury, writes Tony Leen.
Gundogan was operated on by renowned Barcelona-based specialist Dr. Ramon Cugat who reputation as a surgeon is matched by his ability to put the world’s top sports stars “in deep distress and full of fear”, at ease.
In an all-access insight piece for the New York Times, writer Rory Smith details Gundogan’s battle to recover from surgery and return from the dreaded injury, sustained against Watford at the Etihad last December.
Two days before Christmas he went under the knife though for such a major procedure, the reconstruction of a cruciate ligament is surprisingly quick: just a couple of hours in theatre and no general anesthetic.
Gundogan’s whole lower body was numb, but, aside from the first few minutes, he was awake throughout. Cugat instructed his assistants to turn the video screen toward Gundogan, so that he could follow the process: two small incisions above and below the knee; the insertion of a tiny camera probe; the removal of part of his patella tendon, which was then fixed in place as a substitute for the A.C.L., completely torn and unrepairable.
“A lot of it was too complicated for me,” Gundogan said of the procedure. “I didn’t watch all the time, but they wanted me to watch. I still don’t know if that was a good thing. The most interesting thing was the camera coming out of the knee: I could see the screw.”
When it happened, Gundogan felt it was “not too serious.”
“The same feeling as when you click your fingers, but without the noise,” he told Smith.
“The worst thing for me is seeing the other players,” he added.
“That is the most difficult thing: to feel that you are useless, not worth as much as before, not worth as much as the others.”
Read the full New York Times piece here.