‘I know what it means not to be able to play’ - van Wolfswinkel’s unique insight into football’s virus lockdown

Ricky van Wolfswinkel is staying positive after a season unlike any other for the former Norwich Cit

Ricky van Wolfswinkel is staying positive after a season unlike any other for the former Norwich City striker Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City’s former record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel is one footballer who will handle the current lockdown across the game after recovering from life-saving brain surgery earlier this season.

The popular striker, who had a three-year spell at Carrow Road following a big money move from Portugal in 2013, made his long-awaited return to action just prior to football being halted for the spread of the global pandemic.

Van Wolfswinkel needed an operation for a brain aneurysm after a routine head scan in the wake of a Champions League tie for FC Basel in August 2019.

The 31-year-old was then advised to take another month off after his February comeback, before the whole of football was put on hold.

The Dutch international is out of contract this summer, but insists there are far more important matters to worry about.

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“The impact this has on everyone is enormous,” he said, speaking to Swiss media outlet, Blick. “For me, the situation may even be easier than for other footballers.

“I know what it means not to be able to play for so long. I am a positive person. The club has supported me very well in the past few months. It was a difficult moment when the brain scans first came and I knew I would be out for at least half a year.

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“Hopefully we can mitigate the damage to some extent and then look back on a ‘learning process’ in case something comes up in the future that freezes life and the economy. Because that’s going to happen again anyway.”

Van Wolfswinkel is ready to play when football does eventually resume, after doctors paused his original comeback when they found a branch originating from the aneurysm was bleeding more slowly.

“I am completely fit and have been able to do everything again for a while,” he said, speaking to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. “I have been declared completely healthy again, so I hope that we can start training and playing matches again in the near future. Your health is everything. I have realised this in the past six months. So hopefully everyone will stay healthy and we can all go back to normal life slowly.

“There are also not many other things you can do. Hopefully it will go in the right direction soon and we can just move freely again and be able to stand on the field with a ball. I have missed that feeling.”

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