My fitness programme was worked out for me and from 8.30am unti 5pm you had certain classes to go to and work exactly the same as school except THIS was an exercise regime. I was in an unbelievable situation where my schooling became irrelevant because I either had the choice of going back to school on crutches and making a very slow recovery or go in to rehab and work for 8 hours to maintain any chance of becoming a professional footballer. There wasn’t a choice! We didn’t even discuss it as a family; as far as everyone was concerned I had to go to rehab to stand any chance of chasing the dream.
This centre was AMAZING, in 2 weeks I was off crutches and walking, all bar limping. I had to learn how to walk all over again through building up my muscles and spending hours in front of a mirror on a treadmill correcting the limp. I didn’t mind this too much because a mirror to a footballer is an essential piece of equipment as we all know. The people there were as a diverse a group of folk as you will ever meet - young and old, fat and thin, rich and poor. Accident and injury knew no bounds or prejudices and I watched and listened and realised that it wasn’t just about recovery - it was about education and better than any learning experience at school. I was in people heaven!
I was 15 nearly 16 and my closest mates there were a 21 year old motorbike accident that injured his spine and achieved 12 steps a day out of his wheelchair and believe me to watch him walk was something else. My other mate was a 40 year old Indian ex-badminton player who lost his arms but still managed to grip a bat in his stump and whoop your arse in a game of table tennis. These were the sort of inspirational people that you fed off to achieve your own goals. The classes were hard work but interesting. Upstairs you had wood work classes where you rode bikes that make a saw go up and down to cut wood where I produced a “rank” chopping board for my mum. Downstairs were two gyms, one for playing all sports and the other for circuit training and the large hydro-pool was for swimming and massage. All my exercises were designed round the building up, strengthening and range of movement for my quads, hamstrings, calves and knees.
After two months full time work at the rehab I wasn’t limping, I was running normally and my legs were as strong as Roberto Carlos's. My knee felt great, the scars had healed nicely and my only apprehension was a fear of the next step back into football. I can only admire and appreciate how hard the staff at Camden worked. The spirit and patience were great qualities and my education in life from them and the other patients has carried me through to today whereby I don’t really suffer from “bad day blues”. Sadly Camden Rehab Centre is no more but holds a very special place in my heart so if anybody knows anyone that worked there or attended “God Bless You”.
The Return to the Lane N17...........................................