Essendon footballer Marty Gleeson says he’s taken inspiration from successful comeback stories as he overcomes an injury which wiped out his entire 2018 season.
The Koroit export started running two weeks ago – some six months after suffering a serious lower leg injury during an AFL pre-season game in March.
Gleeson, 24, initially thought he’d rolled his ankle. The adrenaline numbed the pain despite breaking his foot and dislocating his ankle.
An initial 12-week timeline proved optimistic.
The running half-back flanker spent four months in a moon boot and is only now feeling comfortable running.
Gleeson said he “underestimated” the injury but was determined to take all precautions.
He knew a season on the sidelines would ultimately be the best result for his career.
“I wanted to make sure it healed because with your feet you hear a lot of horror stories about people not getting it right,” Gleeson told The Standard.
“I talked to a few people around the club and there’s a lot of guys – you probably wouldn’t realise (how many) – that have missed a season of footy. James Kelly when he was younger broke his leg playing for Geelong, ‘BJ’ (Brendon Goddard) did his knee one year and missed a whole year of footy.
“I also watched a lot of documentaries. I love US sports so I watched ones on guys from there that have had significant injuries or had different things happen to them on how they’ve come back. Watching them gives you a lot of hope.”
Gleeson, who has played 69 matches since he was drafted in 2012, remained upbeat despite the slow progress, hitting the gym and adding strength to his lean 191-centimetre frame.
“It was pretty slow. I probably underestimated the injury,” he said.
“The surgeon said to me I’d be in a boot for at least 12 weeks. I ended up being in the boot for close to 18 weeks.
“It was a pretty long time but I guess I had to get it right. It felt so weird walking around for the first time without the boot on. My leg felt so heavy...I almost kept falling over.”
“You have to get used to walking again and a big thing is getting your strength back in your calf.”
Gleeson admitted he had times where he lamented “woe is me” but the support of his Essendon teammates helped him.
“They gave me the opportunity to get away but I wanted to stay at the club,” he said.
“The boys started to play some good footy and I wanted to be there to support them.
“A lot of my good mates are at the footy club, so being around them everyday, there’s not many workplaces where you can do that.
“I still had a great year, a fun year, so I was pretty happy to stay around.”
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