There’s an 18-inch scar on the left side of his skull — carved into his skin like a misshapen horse shoe, but in reality, a gruesome memento from a ‘freak’ injury – which left him with a fractured cranium and internal bleeding a decade ago. Yet, FC Pune City striker Iain Hume says that his current knee injury, which has kept him out of action since February, is worse!
“For me, this injury is worse,” Hume says without hesitation. “When I had the head injury, I was back in training in just three months: It happened in November, I was back training with the team by February. My legs and my body were fine. There was a lot of red tape which stopped me from coming back that season. My comeback ended happening after nine months, but it should have been just six.
“But with this one, there’s no way of rushing back, or there’s no way of cutting corners, or there’s no way of getting on the field with a little bit of pain like I did with my head injury. In this case, I have a timeline, and I have to stick to it. And most importantly, I need to make sure there’s no setback. There’s no way of coming back in four months, it’s a six-to nine-month recovery period. I have no choice. We’re making sure we’re leaving no stone unturned as far as my recovery goes,” the 34-year-old tells Firstpost.
The head injury — which occurred when Sheffield United defender Chris Morgan caught Hume, playing for Barnsley back then, with an elbow while defending a long ball in November 2008 — still dominates conversation a decade later.
“It was one of those freak things. You get these challenges every week in football, and every game. It obviously hurt,” Hume says while breaking into a little laugh. “For me, it was the same as a player who has broken a bone or broken a leg. I had a great circle of friends and family. As scary as it was, it was part of life. I moved on, I was back playing next season and it was as if nothing had happened. And as anyone who’s seen me playing in the ISL can tell you, I do not pull out of any challenges with my head. Maybe that’s my stupidity. But that’s just me.”
Hume admits that the first few years after the incident, he obsessively watched footage of the injury.
“I’ve got photographs, and videos of the injury. When it first happened, I used to sit and watch it over and over again just to find out why it happened and if there was anything I could have done to change it. The videos and photos are still there, but I haven’t looked at them in years, to be honest. It’s like if you buy a new house, you take a photo of it. If you get a new dog, you carry a picture of it.
“Me? I got injured. And now it’s a part of my story. It’s a part of my history. It’s something that I will have to show my kids and grand-kids if they want to know what happened to my skull. This represents the hardships and the struggles I have gone through to help my family get to where it is.”
The injury also cost him — cruelly — a spot in the Kerala Blasters FC team, the same club where, over two stints, he became more beloved than even players like former England goalkeeper David James. Fans of Blasters have come to address him as Humettan (brother in Malayalam). Hume got injured in February and spent the next few months recuperating in Kochi. But even as the medical team of the Blasters worked on his rehabilitation, the club severed ties with him on realising that he would most certainly miss a part of the upcoming Indian Super League season, which will start on 29 September and will go on till mid-December.
“I have great relationship with the Kerala fans, always have and always will. The feeling is mutual, they’ve supported me and I’ve given them my love. I was really disappointed that things didn’t work out the way I wanted to as far as Kerala is concerned. But that’s their decision, they wanted to take a different route. I’ll always have a spot in my heart for the city, the state, the fans and the club. But it’s football. We move on, no doubt they’ve moved on,” Hume says before adding, “I was in touch with the club’s physios and doctors making sure my recovery is on track. The first few months are really important. We’d made each other some promises: the medical staff of the club told me that they were going to get me back fit. Obviously, this was in the assumption that I was going to play for the club the next season. It was a sort of agreement made between all parties. The medical staff stuck to their word, they helped me heal. I’m still in contact with them every few days to appraise them of my progress. It’s a work partnership which had turned into a good friendship.”
When it became apparent that there was no scope to play for Kerala in the upcoming season, FC Pune City extended to him a lifeline.
“FC Pune City came in at the stage when I found I couldn’t play with Kerala and I am grateful for that. Because of the conversations I have had with them so far, it was an easy decision for me to make after what happened with Kerala.”
Hume is not sure when he will return to training, but he says he’s certain that he’s at the latter stage of his recovery.
“It’s hard to put a timeline on it, but I’ll be getting involved in the team’s training very soon hopefully. That in itself will be a massive step.”
Hume realises that even getting to full fitness will only be half the task. The club has in its ranks forwards like Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro besides India’s Robin Singh. But he says he will be at peace with sitting on the bench if the team is doing well.
“To be honest, if I can’t break into the team because my teammates are doing well, I don’t care. If my teammates are scoring goals and that’s why I am on the bench, then that’s a good headache for the coach and myself to have.
“We’re only at the start of it all. I’m looking forward to repaying the club’s faith.”
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Updated Date: Sep 06, 2018 19:30:55 IST