Delaney's gruelling road to recovery makes top flight reward all sweeter
DAMIEN DELANEY almost lost a leg as he pursued his dream of returning to the Premier League after an 11-year absence – so biding his time to add to his five caps for Ireland is a relatively trifling concern.
The astonishing array of vivid emotions the Corkman displayed in Wembley last Monday, as his Crystal Palace side clinched their place in next season's top tier, was indicative of an extraordinarily redemptive journey from the brink.
"When you're told you might not play again, it was a long way back for me, a lot of boring hours in the gym which a lot of people don't see," said the 32-year-old (pictured left).
"You guys maybe watch the Saturday 3.0 kick-off, but when you have an injury as serious as that, there's long, long hours."
Having been diagnosed with a blood clot when at Ipswich, the remarkable prescience of the medical staff there, immediately sending him for the first of two surgical procedures in two days in 2010, surely saved his career.
"It was the extreme of the risks involved," said Delaney when recalling the obvious peril that he could have been forced to quit.
"There was a strong possibility they would have to remove part of my thigh muscle, that's what I was told. That was a real possibility.
"Since then I've had letters off people who have had a similar injury and it wasn't diagnosed quickly enough.
"I heard from a couple of amateur athletes and things like that who went to A&E, and if it doesn't get diagnosed quickly enough, a lot of them have lost part of their thigh muscle.
"It's called compartment syndrome, but the physios at Ipswich were brilliant for me. They called it within 20 minutes and had it operated on within the hour, which was lucky.
"They didn't hesitate, or send me home with an ice-pack – that is what happened to some of the people who wrote to me.
"They were sitting in A&E for a few hours and then the blood supply gets cut off to the muscle and then it dies, basically.
"They diagnosed it quickly enough, but like I said it's a long road back and I had other injuries and other problems as well, but I persevered at it and that's the word I'd use. I stuck at it and got my reward."