Noth­ing can keep brave Dani down

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Joshua Richards

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.

Courage

“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!”

PIC­TURE: The FA

COME­BACK KID: Danielle Gib­bons has made a re­mark­able re­cov­ery from a brain tu­mour op

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