Nothing can keep brave Dani down
THOUGH the Liverpool squad has been decimated by injuries this season, none of the Reds players have had to cope with anything close to what goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons has had to go through.
Injuries have ruled out Fara Williams and Katie Longhurst this term, among others, while in Wednesday night’s Champions League defeat to Brescia captain Gemma Bonner suffered ankle ligament damage.
But all that pales into insignificance when you consider Gibbons was forced to undergo surgery to remove a benign brain tumour in July, leaving her deaf in her left ear.
“I discovered it in March 2013,” said the former Preston stopper.
“I woke up with some tinnitus in my ear and because we train on a 3G pitch I thought I had one of the black rubber crumbs lodged in my ear causing the problem.
“So I went to the hospital, they checked me over but said it was clear, so sent me for a scan. That was when they told me I had a tumour.
“I was shocked. I went on my own to get the results and getting my head around it was tough.
“I didn’t tell anyone except my close family and the medical team at Liverpool. I was determined to carry on training and I used football as an outlet with which to take my anger out.
“I trained all the way up until the operation. I was told I would need one last November and we were nearly finished for the year then, so I wanted to time it to be back for pre-season.
“When that couldn’t happen I wanted to do it in the mid-season break, but I wasn’t sure that I would be able to play this season.”
But the 23-year-old has showed incredible courage to defy the prognosis given by her surgeon and returned to the pitch last weekend for the final game of the WSL 1 season against Bristol Academy, sporting the same protective head gear worn by Arsenal’s number 1 Petr Cech.
Gibbons kept her place between the sticks in Brescia this week and is now delighted she can finally look to the future.
“It’s been hanging over me for a long time,” she added.
“I knew something would have to happen, so it’s been difficult to focus. They had to go through my skull during the surgery and I have been left deaf in one ear and a lot of my rehabilitation was about working on the loss of balance.
“Hearing is not a problem, the only time it has been was on Wednesday because it was so loud in the stadium – I struggled to hear a few calls from the left. But I can cope without it. “It’s amazing to be back. “The first thing I asked when I came back up from surgery was: ‘when can I play again?’
“They said give it three months before you play non-contact, but I’ve managed to recover quicker than that.
“But I am definitely not taking any risks.
“I had two or three days of contact training before the Bristol game and I have come through that fine, with no problems at all.
“I’m not sure my mum and dad are relaxed about it yet though!”
COMEBACK KID: Danielle Gibbons has made a remarkable recovery from a brain tumour op