Adam Forshaw on hamstring issue, why he's 'floating' and Andrea Radrizzani Tweet - YEP 31/1/22
If there’s a lightness about Adam Forshaw it’s because he has come out the other side of a long, dark tunnel.
By Graham Smyth
Last week the Leeds United midfielder finally told the full story of his injury hell, giving a football world that moved on without him all the painful details of the surgeries, setbacks and sadness that befell him.
The 30-year-old missed two years of his career, so jokes that he’s still only 28. It’s easy to joke now, because he’s no longer sitting out, having finally returned to a day job he now appreciates so much more.
Although three months have passed since he set foot on a Premier League pitch and began to put his injury misery behind him, he didn’t fully open up about it publicly until last week.
“I’ve been planning on doing it for a long time but it was just about the time being right,” he told the YEP.
“I wanted to focus on playing and getting into a bit of rhythm and even though I got the hamstring nick, it felt like it was a good time to give closure to it and move on.
“I think people are surprised at the amount of surgeries I had.
“It got to a point where it was so long winded, bad news after bad news.
“It wasn’t being documented in the press, which I wasn’t too bothered about because I just wanted to get back fit. It was quite nice to tell all, it felt like closure a little bit.”
As he speaks, Forshaw is not actually fully fit, thanks to a hamstring issue sustained at West Ham, though when you’ve endured agony that felt never-ending, a niggle is but a minor inconvenience.
“I felt something, but not something really sharp that makes you pull up and I carried on for a couple of minutes but it was just gradually getting worse.
“I sat down and I said to the physio Henry [McStay] I’d give it another try, but he said it’s one of them, if you carry on it’ll get a lot worse, so I have to thank him, it was the right decision because it looks like I’ll only miss one game.
“I went outside for the first time on Tuesday and I’m likely to be training with the team [this] week so it’ll give me a good seven days at least in the lead up to Villa.”
One game is nothing really, in the grand scheme of things. Forshaw sat and watched as his team-mates romped to Premier League promotion and then took the top flight by storm, clinching a top 10 place.
“There were times when I worried that I’d play again, full stop,” he told the YEP.
“But once I was pain free and back training, pre-season time, I knew it would be a matter of time before I got back to the level.
"It wasn’t the case of training for training’s sake thinking what’s going to happen with me, once I knew my body was fine.
"Throughout the two years, there were times, even a year ago, when I wondered if I’d ever play at the level again.
“I knew personally I had a lot to go to get back to the physicality and the level and I like to think I’ve shown I’m back now.
"That was probably the hardest thing, to be physically ready to participate.”
It’s easy to speculate that, at another club, Forshaw might have been able to participate sooner, such are the rigours of the style employed by Bielsa.
Being able to execute Bielsaball is a matter of pride.
“I remember at the beginning of this pre-season, Ruben Crespo, our fitness coach who I spent a lot of time with, he said if you can play as a four or a six in Leeds’ team then you can play as an eight, a 10, a winger or anything in any team because of the demands put on you, even in the more defensive roles here,” he said.
“It does give you pride that you’ve got to a level, playing in this team.”
As tough as it was to get fit and as arduous as it is to remain so, not playing in this team for that length of time has made playing in it more enjoyable than ever.
“I do enjoy it a lot more now,” he said.
“You can get really wrapped up in it at times, not that you shouldn’t because it is a business and it is really serious football, but I think you can strip it back and remember what you loved doing as a kid and why you wanted to be in this position.
"I go out with more of a smile on my face now.
“I missed everything. Little bits of butterflies before the game, the night’s sleep in the hotel before a game. Everything.
"Waking up in the morning knowing you’ve prepared right, having had your treatment the night before, the buzz of the fans.
“That’s what you work for Monday to Friday and unfortunately that’s what I found quite hard in my rehab, not having that carrot.
"That was probably the toughest thing, although I was working hard all week I wasn’t getting that release like the lads.”
Leeds’ season has not been the one they were hoping for but it’s giving Forshaw everything he longed for.
As fierce a competitor as any, he still hates losing, yet even in defeat there are moments to cherish.
“There’s been lots of them,” he said.
“My first [start], the Leicester game, I was loving absolutely every minute of it. In the second half I felt like I was floating.
"I really enjoyed the performance away at Chelsea – unfortunately we didn’t get a result – and the last-minute penalty against Palace.
“I remember just losing myself in the celebrations, that was a great feeling. There’s been a lot of moments.
"Even the beginning of the West Ham game, I felt brilliant. We started really well and I was thinking this is what you’re here for.”
The light at the end of the tunnel has been brighter than anyone, even Forshaw himself, anticipated.
He has not only conquered the injury, he’s showing he can be the player he was before, something Bielsa doubted was possible.
In doing so he has also shone a kinder light on a summer Tweet from club owner Andrea Radrizzani, who responded to a question over a new midfield signing with the words: “Adam Forshaw.”
“I don’t have Twitter but I got told about it,” Forshaw grinned.
“Everyone at the club, the owner, the physios, the manager, the support staff, for them to stand by me for so long – I don’t know if another club would have given up on me, but the club seemed to stick by me through thick and thin.
“Anything I asked for they got for me and I’m glad it’s all behind me now and I’m back playing.”
So long was he gone that the gallows-humour reply ‘what’s a Forshaw?’ became commonplace on social media, whenever he was mentioned.
A Forshaw is a footballer for Leeds United. At long last. And he loves it.