I am sure that Simone Magill would’ve loved to have been on the back pages of all the newspapers and the focus of so much media attention during the Women’s Euro 2022 finals – but not in the way that it has very sadly turned out.
Being in the spotlight as she has been since Northern Ireland opened the tournament with that 4-1 defeat to Norway on Thursday night, when she left the pitch after 80 minutes having suffered what has now been confirmed as a cruciate ligament injury, must be very hard for her especially in the midst of this historic first major tournament.
I can’t imagine just how difficult that must be.
Yes, I am sitting out the tournament myself, but I have had time to process that in the lead-up. When it happens during it – similar to star midfielder Alexia Putellas, one of Spain’s protagonists who suffered the same injury mere days before – that makes it even harder.
It must be overwhelming for her, but she has a very positive outlook.
She has taken the perspective of ‘I got to step out at a major tournament for my country’ and only so many people can say that.
I can empathise with Simone to an extent in that I experienced the same injury with Glentoran Women almost two years ago – it is really devastating and you know that it is going to be a long spell on the sidelines, and with Simone being a full-time professional player football is her job and her life.
It isn’t for me and while football is still as big a passion, I have a slightly different outlook because when it is your life there is so much more to think about.
For me having a job and other things going, that life goes on in a sense, there are ways I can take my mind off it – but where football is her full-time profession, she is probably thinking a little about how she is going to get through the time outside of rehab, keep herself distracted and keep her mind off it because it can become consuming, especially in the early stages when there is a lot of frustration and it seems like things are moving really slowly. You need an outlet somewhere.
I wouldn’t worry about that too much because I know Simone has interests outside of football too, but that is a trait that struck me about the difference between her and myself.
Sadly the number of Northern Ireland internationals who have suffered cruciate injuries, particularly in the last two years, is very high.
When it happened to me, players like Julie Nelson and Sarah McFadden were massive sources of encouragement.
They said that they came back stronger from it and really developed their mentalities. Simone now has other examples of successful recoveries that she can look towards.
You do learn a lot about yourself when you have time out injured and you have a lot of room to reflect.
It puts everything into perspective a lot more and you appreciate what you have.
As long as Simone doesn’t overthink and overprocess everything, understanding that everyone’s journey is different and being diligent in her rehab, I have no doubt that she will be the better for it.