‘It’s been hard but I’m on the right track’

‘It’s been hard but I’m on the right track’ [ad_1]

Charly Musonda was seen as the way forward for Chelsea.

His signing – at the age of 15 – was seen as an enormous coup; there had been curiosity from Barcelona, Manchester City and Real Madrid, and one among his coaches at Anderlecht stated he might be one among the prime 5 gamers in the world.

But since scoring on his full debut as a 20-year-old, he has made simply six extra appearances for Chelsea, and solely performed 4 occasions in the previous three years.

Here he tells BBC Sport what occurred, what it was like being advised he had solely a 20% likelihood of enjoying once more – and the extraordinary story of how a knee damage saved his father’s life.

‘It was like the World Cup closing’

After becoming a member of Chelsea from Anderlecht, Musonda was an integral a part of groups that gained the Uefa Youth League and FA Youth Cup.

To help his improvement, he joined Real Betis on mortgage – and was named man of the match in the first of 24 appearances he made throughout two spells with the Spanish membership.

When he returned to Chelsea, supervisor Antonio Conte advised Musonda he could be a part of the first-team squad.

And six weeks after making his Premier League debut in August 2017, he scored his first purpose in an EFL Cup match in opposition to Nottingham Forest – a recreation he sees as his “World Cup final”.

“I remember that in cup matches, the manager would say we could stay at home, rather than in the Premier League and Champions League, when you stay in the hotel as a team,” he says.

“For me, it was like the World Cup final. I stayed at the hotel by myself. I scored and had a good game so I was very happy. It was a great moment.”

The pleasure, although, was short-lived.

‘I received up and could not stroll’

In January 2018, Musonda joined Celtic on an 18-month mortgage, but it was reduce quick that summer time and Chelsea loaned him to Vitesse Arnhem.

He had been at the membership only a week when the incident occurred that might form the subsequent three years of his life.

Musonda was enjoying in a pleasant in opposition to Antwerp when a 50-50 problem resulted in him tearing his posterior cruciate ligament.

“I knew something was wrong straight away because I got up and I couldn’t walk,” he says.

The preliminary prognosis steered Musonda would solely be out for a few months, but when he tried to return – he managed 4 transient substitute appearances for Vitesse in 2019 – he was nonetheless in ache. He would ice his knee for hours between coaching periods.

Musonda sought additional medical recommendation.

“The doctors said: ‘If you have a surgery now, you’re going to miss another year. It’s going to be three years of no football so it’s going to be impossible for you to come back’,” he explains.

“A PCL surgery is not common in football. It’s not like an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] where you have surgery and in six months you can come back.

“They advised me the odds of coming again have been like 20%. Of coming again and being at the prime degree, with the ability to compete and play for a membership like Chelsea, it was slim to none.

“It was very difficult.”

Charly Musonda playing for Chelsea
Musonda made his final first-team look for Chelsea in January 2018

‘I’m on the right monitor’

It is now 4 years since Musonda was capable of play back-to-back video games, and he has made simply 4 substitute appearances since that ill-fated deal with.

“It’s very difficult to have three years without being able to do what you really love,” he says. “I would be lying to say that it’s been easy, but I’ve always known that some struggles are worth going through.

“I really feel like a fighter now getting ready for a boxing match. It could be an unimaginable comeback – an unimaginable story. Every day is a part of the journey, day by day a step nearer to coming again. I’m on the right monitor.

“I do believe that if I put a run together and I come back, I can play for a good 10 years. I’m still 24 – if I come back in the prime of my career, I can put a run together – that’s my goal.”

While Musonda’s profession has stalled, a number of of his academy team-mates have progressed to the Chelsea first workforce – together with Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Mason Mount.

“I know how hard it is, so I’m really proud of them,” he says. “Seeing people you’ve grown up with doing so well, you can only be happy. Hopefully I’ll be able to one day train and play with them again.”

But Musonda is sincere sufficient to confess it has generally been hard to observe his former team-mates.

“In a way it has been, just because I can’t play football,” he says. “That’s the main thing, it’s not necessarily them, it’s just watching football on TV.

“I spend nights pondering I can not watch soccer, generally I could not actually sleep.”

‘If he was on the aircraft, I would not be right here’

There is a poignancy to Musonda’s story – a talented footballer denied the chance to do the thing he loves most.

That his father – former Zambia international Charly Sr – had his career ended by a knee injury adds another layer.

In Musonda Sr’s case, though, the injury may well have saved his life.

“My dad had a qualifying recreation for Zambia for the 1994 World Cup,” Charly Jr says. “He was struggling together with his knee but needed to play.

“When they travelled to the game, the plane crashed and everybody died. The team, the staff, everybody.

“My dad was fortunate as a result of the proprietor of Anderlecht advised him he should not go. My dad was livid. Two days later the aircraft crashed. If he was on the aircraft, I would not be right here.”

He thinks about his father every day, and is determined his football career will have a different end.

“He’s one among the causes I’m making an attempt to come back again,” says Charly Jr, whose Chelsea contract runs until 2022. “I do not need my story to finish on a knee damage. I wish to present that my story was the similar but that I got here again.

“Every day, when I went to do my rehab, I thought about this. I thought about my dad and all the people who couldn’t do it. He is my inspiration. Every day I do it for him.”

  • Watch Charly Musonda on Football Focus on BBC One and the BBC iPlayer from 12:00 BST

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