by Walter Broeckx
In a supporters life there are moments that you never forget. Like the first time you see your favourite team live. I even still have a photo taken from the old North Bank somewhere in a photo album that my wife once made of the big events that happened in my life. And I still remember when in those old days that when we got the photos back developed it was the picture of our visit in London that I was most looking forward to see again. I must make myself some time to take the album out of the closet one of these days.
Or the first visit to the Emirates. The pictures from that day are visible on my computer when I want and this just shows how the times have changed since my first visit to London. And those are the good memories. The memories that when you close your eyes you can relive them.
You can feel the exceptionally warm February day in 1979 again. You can smell the food being sold in the stalls. You can even imagine hearing the same old guy shouting just outside the underground station : “Get your Gooner”. Maybe when you are lucky to visit all the home games those memories are more lost and you will more remember the days when we won the league and you were there.
But as a fan you also have the bad days. Days that creep under your skin and no matter how hard you try the terrible memory will not go away. You don’t want to remember it but it comes back to haunt you. Images so terrible you don’t want to see them again but after the first time you saw them they are burned in to your memory and they will never go away.
The horror when Eduardo was lying there with his foot almost separated from his leg. It still sends shivers down my spine. You don’t want to remember it but whenever you see a picture of Eduardo you see the terrible tackle and the horrible consequences. And even more because that nice young man never came good after his recovery.
And if I may add that later that season when the Emirates cup was played and Eduardo came on to the field and got a standing ovation from the crowd you could see and feel the emotions from the Gooner fans on their faces. On many faces you could see a tears wanting to come out, also on my face I must admit . One of those things when you grow a bit older I think. Something that happened again when I saw him coming out as a captain of our team and scoring his first goal on his come back. Great and good memories you never forget.
Another day we all will remember is the day that young Aaron Ramsey was send to hospital by another reckless and foolish challenge by Ryan ‘he’s not that kind’ Shawcross. Actually he IS that kind of player as his record shows and his foolish and reckless challenges on Adebayor one year earlier indicate. No Arsenal fan will forget how his leg was hanging in a very strange angle after that assault. Another terrible picture burned in to our memory. Another image we will not forget.
And now finally the young man is back in training outside with the rest of the players. He is running around in his elegant style we all remember. He is kicking the ball again. Like Wenger said: he is smiling again. And it sure looks great to see him back and to see him smile. A hard work so far has been done. The heeling process seems to have been a success. The broken bones are back like they should be. But this isn’t the end of it.
Like we have seen with Eduardo the most difficult part is lying ahead of Ramsey. At first Eduardo gave the impression of having completely recovered physical and mentally. But after playing some games, after all those little muscle injuries he suffered, you could see there was something going wrong. He began to lose the mental war in his head. I think the departure of Eduardo had a something to do with the official reason that he wouldn’t get enough play time. But I do think there is more.
I think Eduardo said goodbye to Arsenal on the day that Ramsey got his leg broken. Or better said: he said goodbye to English football on that day. An accident can happen, but when you see the same thing happen again, time after time, you know this is no longer an accident. And the already difficult battle in his head to forget his injury and pain and suffering was lost.
When you saw Eduardo play you could see the fear inside his head. He didn’t dare to put his standing leg firm in the ground when he was trying to score. No he pulled it off the ground and therefore couldn’t direct his shots or lost the power needed to put it in goal.
On that terrible day Eduardo realized that the protection players like him and Ramsey are getting from the refs is non existant. The refs hardly deal with such dangerous tackles and the FA just gives the usual 3 game ban and the offenders get away with it and get backed in the press who tells us all nice and friendly stories about them that only makes me feel sick.
So on that terrible day we lost Ramsey but we also lost Eduardo for good. And yes I realise that in the shape he was, he was never going to be a first choice striker but a fully fit and mental fit Eduardo could have been worth his weight in gold. If you look at the injuries in our striking department you can think that he would have had his chance to prove us wrong and show that he was coming back mentally. And if we just have a look at his statistics in Donetsk he has played 10 games and scored 4. So not that bad at all I would say and if he would have done this for us it would have been great.
But I think the only way for Eduardo to get his career back on track was to leave the EPL and to look for a league where there is less violent attacks on good and technical players. We will see him back in a few weeks and I think the Arsenal fans will give him the warmest of welcomes we can give a former player. A welcome we gave Henry, a welcome we gave Pires. This is what we should give Eduardo and I am sure he will get this. As I think that Eduardo still would be an Arsenal player now and scoring lots of goals for us if it hadn’t been for his own injury. And most of all if it hadn’t been for the Ramsey injury.
I have the feeling that on that terrible day in Stoke we did not only lose Ramsey and Ramsey did not only lose a big part of his career, but also Eduardo said goodbye to the EPL in his head on that day. So let us hope that Ramsey can do what Eduardo could not do and get over his injury and get it out of his head. And just saying you don’t think of it is the easiest part as I can tell it from my own experience. Because on the field it doesn’t matter what you said you will do, it matters what the legs and the brains actually do when you are running there.
Here is a fan that is hoping with all his heart that Ramsey will come good and that he can fulfil the promise he was carrying in him before that terrible day. And let us hope and pray that we don’t lose other players like Eduardo for good and Ramsey for a while with those terrible leg breaking tackles.
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