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“My leg didn’t work” - Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld opens up about freak knee injury

Spurs’ Belgian central defender discussed the injury that kept him out of the side for two months.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld opened up to the press recently about his knee injury, and it’s a weird story. Alderweireld went down injured two months ago in a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion, and while initial scans of the injury revealed what looked like no long-term damage, he nonetheless spent eight weeks on the sidelines dealing with a strange nerve injury that he called “one in a million.”

“It was an unusual injury, one in a million. It almost never happens in football. I got a hard knock on the nerve on the right side of my knee, so the nerve was shut down. All of my leg was shut down. When that happens, it takes a long time to ‘restart’ the nerve again, so it wasn’t an injury you could put a time limit on. If you pull a hamstring, you will probably be out for four to six weeks. With a nerve, you don’t know.

“My leg didn’t work and I had to start all over again. The nature of the problem also meant that for a while, my foot didn’t work properly, so I had do as much recovery work as possible without using my foot.

“I could walk, but not as I normally would, because it was difficult to lift up my foot. It was difficult for the medical staff to put a time on my recovery because we didn’t know. It could have been two weeks, six weeks, maybe three months more.

“We just had to do everything we could to stimulate the nerve and ensure I could come back as quickly as possible. It was very frustrating, but I had to use the frustration to work as hard as possible and be ready to come back.

“I knew that when the nerve started working normally again, I had to be able to play as quickly as possible, and that was my motivation. I feel fit, even better than I did, and I’m hungry to help the team.”

So I’m no doctor, but that sounds to me like an incredibly aggravating and painful injury. Nerves are bizarre things and to have one shut off like that is just bizarre. It does, however, explain why we had an initial positive diagnosis after his original scans came back negative for ligament damage, only to see him sidelined for what felt like an eternity.

The good news is that Toby doesn’t seem to have any long term effects from this injury. He looked solid in the past matches against CSKA Moscow and Manchester United, and while it may have taken him a bit to shake off the rust, he’s showed that it didn’t take him long to get back up to speed. That’s important for Tottenham — Spurs have missed him greatly.