Ricky van Wolfswinkel steps up recovery from a life-threatening brain condition
PUBLISHED: 12:30 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:32 19 December 2019
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Norwich City’s former club record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel has taken the first step to a playing return after being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain condition earlier this season.
The Dutch striker, who spent three years at Carrow Road following a big money move from Sporting Lisbon in 2013, underwent surgery for a brain anuerysm detected during a routine scan for concussion.
But van Wolfswinkel is now back in light training at FC Basel for the first time since his major health scare which came to light immediately after a Champions League qualifier against ASK Linz in August.
The 30-year-old, who scored two goals in 28 senior games for the Canaries, admits he still faces a long road ahead despite a welcome return to training.
"It was good to be back on the pitch. But that was only the first of many steps.
"I still need time to recover, at least three months, maybe even longer," he said, with the striker unable to do any contact work or heading the ball. "My only goal was to come back and play for FCB again.
"At the end of February I know how long I will have to do without contact. I can do cardio and strength training. Free kicks or passing exercises are also included. I am now improving my free kicks and my left foot. Only heading is not possible. There is only a short vacation over Christmas.
"I can train again, so I want to do something. Maybe I'll be a marathon runner in two weeks!"
Van Wolfswinkel, speaking to FCB's television station, revealed he initially found it tough to watch his team mates.
"I had to go home (the first time I came to the stadium). It was not possible to sit and watch," he said. "I told my wife after about 30 minutes we had to go home. I felt that I had to be on the pitch to help the team and the club. It was very difficult for me. I was immediately aware that I could not play for a long time.
"Suddenly I had a lot of time (after the surgery) and was also thinking about life. It is difficult not to train with the team, or not to be allowed to train at all. I haven't done anything else in my life."
The ex-Dutch international scored a flying header on his Premier League debut for the Canaries but fell out of favour under successive managers.
A series of loan spells eventually saw him re-ignite his career during a prolific spell at Vitesse Arnhem, when he bagged 20 goals in 32 Eredivise appearances in 2016/17, after leaving Carrow Road for a nominal fee.
That got him a move to the Swiss champions, where he has notched 24 league goals in 56 appearances.