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Brady just glad to be back

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Robbie Brady is pictured during training at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown yesterday after making a full recovery from a broken leg suffered in a Premier League match against Leicester City last December

Robbie Brady is pictured during training at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown yesterday after making a full recovery from a broken leg suffered in a Premier League match against Leicester City last December

Robbie Brady is pictured during training at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown yesterday after making a full recovery from a broken leg suffered in a Premier League match against Leicester City last December

For Robbie Brady, healing the pain of his broken leg turned out to be the easy part.

It was the mental side of things in his 11-month absence from the game which the Dubliner found hardest to deal with, Brady only now getting the pep back in his step as he aims for new heights with club and country.

Tomorrow's international against Northern Ireland in Dublin is a big deal for some of the boys in green, especially Glenn Whelan, who will play for his country for the 85th (and final) time.

It could be Just Another Friendly for others, like Brady, but tomorrow will see him play for Ireland for the first time since he suffered a broken leg last December, while on club duty with Burnley so it's a big deal.

There are things he can now joke about from his long absence. Like the fact that the timing of his injury (early December) meant he could binge on the mince pies more than usual. "I was laid up over Christmas, which had its perks," he smiled.

But the serious side of Brady shows through when he talks about the psychological battles.

"It's a bigger challenge, you sort of get your head around the physical side of things after a couple of months," he says.

"When you're getting back moving you know what you have to do. But when you're in the gym on your own day in and day out, it gets that little bit lonely. You don't get to mingle with the lads that much, you're literally on your own for the majority of it.

"It was probably ten months near enough on my own. You drive in to training with the lads and then wouldn't see them, and then you're going home again. Yeah, I think that side of things is a lot, lot tougher.

"I had injuries before but nothing as serious as this. I think it's getting your head around it, not being with the lads, days on end on your own, I missed the team bonding, the togetherness.

"It was mentally tough at times, you are desperate to play but have a long period ahead of yourself. Once you get your head around the physical side of it, I knew what I had to to do get back but the mental side of it is more difficult than the physical side of it, coming back from an injury like this.

Positive

"I think the mind plays tricks on you all the time. If you have a bad day, you have a bad day, which there was a few of along the way, but you just have to try and stay positive."

He says family, and the distractions of daugther Halle (4), helped.

"My little girl, that took my mind off it a little bit and it just gives you time to concentrate on other things and get going," he says now.

Brady says he was "giddy" at times in his bid to regain fitness which didn't help, as setbacks arose at stages during his recovery as he perhaps pushed himself too hard.

"I went in thinking 'six months and I'll be fine, as soon as it heals up I'll be back'," says Brady, aware that his surgeon had told him it could take up to 18 months to feel fully fit.

"After six-to-nine months I felt I was ready to go, that's when I started picking up little niggles. I was maybe trying to force it a little bit too early."

He did get back and after a series of reserve games for his club, he returned for the first time, against Chelsea last month, a 4-0 home defeat.

"The Chelsea game was tough to take, one of the most difficult I have been on the end of," he says.

His club missed him but so did his country as Brady's last involvement with Ireland was in the heavy defeat at home to Denmark.

"I haven't played a game for Ireland for 12 months now, but I've been feeling stronger as the months have gone on. Coming into it now, I feel really good," he says.

"I've missed out on quite a few caps over the years with little niggles and injuries. That's annoying in itself but when you are completely sidelined for the year, say I'm away at Burnley, I see the lads most days, then half the group is away for international duty and the place is quieter.

"It's disappointing when you can't travel away. Walking out at the Aviva is always special.

"I'm desperate to get back to it, I'm desperate to go out and play there and then play in Denmark the week after so it's been a long time coming. I'm really looking forward to it.

"I'm that little bit older now and hopefully wiser so hopefully I can help these young lads coming in, some of them have great ability so if I can help them as well as the senior lads who helped me, I will try and give them a hand along the way."


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