QPR midfielder Ale­jan­dro Fau­rlin is fi­nally hop­ing for an in­jury-free run

Af­ter his in­jury night­mare, QPR stal­wart has sim­ple am­bi­tion

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

ALE­JAN­DRO Fau­rlin isn’t ask­ing a lot. “I don’t want to be player of the year,” says QPR’s Ar­gen­tinian midfielder. “I don’t want to score a hun­dred goals and get a big move for mil­lions of pounds. I’m just ask­ing to fin­ish a whole sea­son. That’s all.” It is four years since Fau­rlin last man­aged that sim­ple task. Three since he suf­fered the first in a trio of cat­a­strophic knee in­juries. A rup­tured an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in his right. Another in his left. A sick­en­ing re­cur­rence just 12 months later. Each re­quired surgery and months of gru­elling re­hab. Each re­duced one of the Cham­pi­onship’s finest mid­field­ers to a hob­bling spec­ta­tor. Each sapped a lit­tle more of his de­ter­mi­na­tion to bat­tle on.

“I went through dif­fer­ent stages,” ex­plains Fau­rlin, who has played just 40 times since win­ning pro­mo­tion to the Premier League un­der Neil Warnock in 2011.

“The first two, I was very up­set, very an­gry and frus­trated. I spent a lot of time think­ing ‘Why me? Why now?’ But I was very de­ter­mined to come back.The third was much worse. I just had a big empty feel­ing. Very, very dark. Af­ter the op­er­a­tion I had no mo­ti­va­tion. I thought maybe I should just give up.

“Phys­i­cally, I was OK.You get many play­ers who have a sit­u­a­tion where they have de­stroyed their knee or they have long-term car­ti­lage prob­lems and the doc­tors say ‘We can do noth­ing’.

“For me, each in­jury was a one-off that could be fixed. It was never a case of ‘I won’t be able to play’. Af­ter so many prob­lems, it was a case of ‘Do I want to? Can I keep fight­ing?’

“It wasn’t un­til the end of the re­hab that I re­ally started to feel that ‘Yes, I do want to play football again’. Be­fore that was ter­ri­ble – I wouldn’t wish those thoughts on any­one.”

Speak­ing to Fau­rlin now, four games into his latest QPR come­back, it is hard to imag­ine the sunny South Amer­i­can wal­low­ing in the depths of de­spair.

Friendly, flu­ent and quick to laugh, you’d never be­lieve the 29-year-old – de­scribed by Joey Bar­ton as the best midfielder he’s ever played with – has lost the best years of his ca­reer.

Happy

“I en­joy ev­ery day now,” says Fau­rlin, who came through the ranks at Ar­gen­tine side Rosario Cen­tral with Manch­ester United flop An­gel Di Maria. “Ev­ery train­ing ses­sion. Ev­ery re­serve game. The in­juries have put life into per­spec­tive and I am happy now ev­ery time I walk onto a pitch.”

When Fau­rlin ar­rived at QPR in 2009 with his wife and in­fant son, Tiziano, in tow, he spoke just a smat­ter­ing of English.

Yet his speed of adap­ta­tion on the pitch (he won QPR’s player of the year award in his first cam­paign) was more than matched by his seam­less cul­tural as­sim­i­la­tion off it. Six years on, his love of Lon­don shines through and Tiziano – now seven and pic­tured be­low on dad’s twit­ter ac­count watch­ing QPR on TV – has gone na­tive.

“We make a point of speak­ing to him in Span­ish but his first lan­guage is English and his men­tal­ity is English too,” laughs Fau­rlin. “Maybe he will play for you one day!

“When I first came here, I had to get used to ev­ery­thing. It was tough.

But now that I have, I love it. Will we stay? It is a ques­tion for ev­ery for­eign player who has spent so long away from his home. What is home now? You grow into a cul­ture and get to know a lot of peo­ple so it will be hard when the de­ci­sion comes.

“My wife and son have been mas­sive for me these three years. It’s been very dif­fi­cult for them as well. They have to go through all the same emo­tions as me, only sec­ond hand.

“Some­times I won’t be able to help at home. Some­times I won’t be able to play with my son. It isn’t easy to say to a lit­tle boy, ‘I’m too tired, I’ve been do­ing re­hab all day, I just need to pass out!’ “But at the end of the day, if you fight for some­thing that hard, you’ll do any­thing. I’ve played football all my life and even af­ter ev­ery­thing, I still love it. I’ve got no re­grets.”

Nor should he, es­pe­cially af­ter for­sak­ing home com­forts.

“The first two oper­a­tions, I had them done in Spain, in Barcelona,” adds Fau­rlin. “And my fam­ily – my par­ents, ev­ery­one – all came over to see me.

“But it was very trau­matic for them to see me suf­fer­ing. I felt like I was mess­ing with peo­ple’s lives, in­clud­ing my wife and son’s. So this last time, I de­cided to stay in Lon­don, es­pe­cially with Tizi in Year 2 now. It was my turn to look af­ter them for a change.”

Amaz­ing

Speak­ing of com­pas­sion, Fau­rlin also had words of praise for his club, who have re­peat­edly handed out new con­tracts. In fact, Fau­rlin is now the Hoops’ long­est-serv­ing player.

“In football, when you get one of these se­ri­ous in­juries, it isn’t good,” he says. “You get one, OK. You get two, you’re a risk. No­body wants to have you. Football is a busi­ness and it’s ruth­less like that. But QPR have been amaz­ing. I re­ally mean that. Even in the dark­est mo­ments, the club were there for me.”

Not ev­ery­body shares his af­fec­tion for Rangers. Reck­less over­spend­ing, dress­ing room splits, two rel­e­ga­tions from the Pre- mier League; in many peo­ple’s eyes, the mis­guided gen­eros­ity of chair­man Tony Fer­nan­des has brought only mock­ery, debt and in­sta­bil­ity.

It is a charge Fau­rlin does not dis­pute but, hav­ing clung to £15m man Char­lie Austin and shipped out the “bad eggs” over the sum­mer, he be­lieves Fer­nan­des has learned his les­son.

“It has been frus­trat­ing to watch,” says Fau­rlin. “And what makes it even more dif­fi­cult is that there are no bad in­ten­tions. None. The peo­ple at the top, they want more than any­thing to get it right. But for some rea­son, there has al­ways been some­thing miss­ing.

“The prob­lem was that the group was al­ways new. In re­cent years, we have changed a lot. Not just a few play­ers in a win­dow.We were chang­ing like ten, 11, 12 play­ers ev­ery sum­mer.

“When that hap­pens, if the re­sults don’t come straight away – and we had just been pro­moted so it was never go­ing to be like that – it is very dif­fi­cult to build that bond and get con­fi­dent in each other.

“Now we are win­ning, ev­ery­body is happy, there’s a pos­i­tive feel­ing around. Ev­ery­body trusts each other. Ev­ery­thing else comes from that.

“This year, there were a lot of ques­tions about QPR. Peo­ple say­ing we would have a very bad sea­son.But now the win­dow is shut, we have kept Char­lie Austin, Matty Phillips, San­dro, Rob Green. And we have added as well.

“Sud­denly, we have half a chance for pro­mo­tion again. If you come down to our train­ing ground, you will see how strong we are – and how united.”

For Fau­rlin, though, pro­mo­tion is a sec­ondary ob­jec­tive to sim­ply coax­ing those knees through 46 games.

“It’s not like I don’t have any pain and sud­denly feel back to nor­mal,” he ad­mits. “That’s never go­ing to be the case again. But you get used to it.

“And I need to play a whole sea­son be­fore I say to any­one ‘I’m over it’,” he says. “That is not me be­ing su­per­sti­tious. That’s me be­ing re­al­is­tic.

“But what­ever hap­pens, it has been quite some jour­ney as a hu­man be­ing. It has made me stronger, and I think more com­pas­sion­ate and un­der­stand­ing. Down the line, I would love to help peo­ple who have the same sort of prob­lems the way oth­ers helped me. I want to turn what I went through into a pos­i­tive thing.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

FRESH HOPE: Ale­jan­dro Fau­rlin is ea­ger to play matches for QPR this term. Insets be­low: He’s stretchered off and his QPR-sup­port­ing son Tiziano, 7

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

POP­U­LAR: QPR play­ers warm up wear­ing t-shirts in hon­our of their in­jured team-mate, and Fau­rlin cel­e­brates play-off suc­cess with chair­man Tony Fer­nan­des in 2013-14

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