Jess Fishlock: Wales’ most capped player says she considered quitting with knee injury

Jess Fishlock received an MBE in 2018

Despite the surgery and four months of rehabilitation, Jess Fishlock was in such pain that he was barely able to get down the stairs – and he wondered if football was really worth it.

The best player in Wales, winner of the Champions League, with several titles in her name – did she really need to keep putting her body in that level of agony?

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"It was a very low part for one … and it was also kind of … I'm almost through anyway, do I really have to work at it?" Fishlock told BBC Radio Wales.

"Am I happy with my career? And the answer is yes, I have nothing else to do or really prove. Am I happy? And my answer was yes. I am so happy with everything I have done and achieved.

"I think the only thing that got me out of this was that I didn't want an injury to retire."

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It was in July 2019 that Fishlock suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a double tear of the meniscus in his knee, playing for Seattle Reign in the United States.

The injury occurred just six weeks after she helped Lyon, on loan, to win the Champions League for the fourth consecutive year.

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Fishlock quickly withdrew the prescribed medication for fear of being addicted to opiates.

"I have an addictive personality … even stopping them after four days was difficult," she said.

"I don't think I even realized how difficult the recovery process is. I don't think I realized how difficult it would be with the fact that I have a double meniscus rupture as well.

"I thought it would be painful at first and in a month, I would be fine and could start doing some things."

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"But you know I couldn't go down the stairs properly, even at three or four months. It's a chore to even do the basics of things, so the initial period hit me for six. Recovery was much more difficult than I was I thought it would be ".

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Rachel Rowe: ACL teammate, friend and mentor of injuries

Salvation for Fishlock came through friends, family, his club and an important teammate in Wales.

"I had great people taking care of me," she said.

"Reign was incredibly supportive. They sent me to Australia, I worked with a specialist, I did everything I needed from them and now – touch the wood – I'm feeling great.

"Obviously, I spoke to my family at my lowest points and they were like, 'Do you really want it to end this way? Don't you just want to end it on your own terms?' And I thought, ' ; Yes, you are right, I do. & # 39;

"So you have to find the mental strength to get through this. And to be fair, that's what it is. It's all mental. It's such a long and difficult injury."

Rachel Rowe: Wales midfielder with injuries, qualifiers for Euro 2021 and Team GB

Being able to summon a teammate and friend from Wales who suffered the same injury was another help, with Reading midfielder Rachel Rowe always on hand to answer questions after missing a year of action with the same injury.

"I was very lucky to have Rachel, because the amount of text messages she received from me … Bless her cotton socks, she was like my little mentor," said Fishlock.

"I could ask, 'Am I feeling this, is this normal?' She's like: 'Yes.' So I was lucky because there were some people. Kimmy Little, from Scotland, it's another one who just went through this. It really helped me get over it. I was lucky with that. "

Wales dreams before retiring

Fishlock continues his rehabilitation in Seattle, where he is locked up until the end of May due to coronavirus restrictions in Washington state.

While the documentary Tiger King and the painting of numbers are filling his time between knee strengthening sessions, Fishlock admits he is daydreaming about a grand final before retirement.

Success on the international stage remains the only thing missing from the 33-year curriculum.

Euro 2021 has been postponed one year to 2022, with Wales currently in second place in the qualifying group and probably fighting for a play-off spot.

Fishlock may also be in contention for a place in Britain at the Tokyo Olympics, also postponed for a year to 2021 because of Covid-19. However, his focus is very much on Jayne Ludlow's Wales.

"I think for myself everything I do now, all the decisions I make in relation to my football will be geared towards 2022 and qualification for Wales," she said.

"I have been trying to qualify with Wales for my entire career.

"I really want to go to a big tournament with Wales more than anything, so I found that motivation to help me get over this injury."

"It means continuing to play until I am 35, but I think I will be fine with doing that. If anything I think I will probably improve, physically."

"I haven't had a break in so long that, in fact, I think a break was really good for me … I'm not worried about that."

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