‘I can’t thank the PFA enough’: King’s Lynn Town’s Wall on comeback trail thanks to players’ union
Long-term injury victim Stuart Wall is back on the road to recovery – thanks to the Professional Footballers' Association.
The King's Lynn Town defender hasn't kicked a ball since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during pre-season. But now the centre-back can finally start planning his return after the PFA stepped in to help.
Lynn's player and players' player of last season will undergo surgery on January 3 after the union 'assisted in some capacity' to held fund the cost of the operation.
'I was absolutely ecstatic when I got the news that the PFA had agreed to help,' said the 25-year-old, who now expects to be playing again at the start of next season.
'It's taken a little while to get sorted, because they've had to go through the appropriate avenues, but I can't thank them enough. They've been top-drawer and will even help with my rehab.
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'I can see a way back into the game again now. I've felt like I've been fighting a losing battle. But now I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.'
Wall admits he would have had to have waited until at least March to get the operation done by the NHS, further extending his longest-ever spell on the sidelines.
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The Northampton-based sports lecturer first damaged his knee against Wisbech Town on July 14 but thought he had only dislocated it. Little did he know how serious the problem was until he collapsed during the warm-up at Soham Town Rangers in Lynn's last friendly of the summer on August 11.
Wall said: 'I ruptured the ligament against Wisbech but didn't know. I went away on holiday, came back, and then my knee gave way at Soham. Straight away I knew it was serious.
'I ended my first season on the up, winning personal awards, and I'd gone into pre-season on a high. It's been massively frustrating since and hard to watch games. I've wanted to be part of the success. I've felt out of the loop.
'Now I just need to be patient and not too eager to come back. It's good to finally start thinking about playing football again.'
Wall says boss Gary Setchell, assistant Neil Fryatt, first-team coach Ross McNeil, his team-mates and everyone at the club have been great in helping him get through his injury nightmare.
Setchell said: 'The PFA is a great organisation – one of the best in the world. It helps players past and present and they're really helping to speed up Stuart's recovery.
'It's a tough one. The club can't go out and pay for the operation as you might get three of them a season. They're not cheap. So I'm delighted for him. He's one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet.
'Now, for the first time, you can hear a real spring in his voice. It's great he's got something to aim for. He'll be back in contention for next season. It's a massive boost for him, for me, and the club.'
The PFA, formed in 1907, aims to protect, improve and negotiate the conditions, rights and status of all professional – and semi-professional – players.
A spokesman for the union said: 'This is just one of hundreds of cases we deal with throughout the year on an almost daily basis. We provide a wide spectrum of help for players past and present – including matters such as assistance with education. Helping our members is what we do.'