Joe Gomez opens up on "underlying trauma" he's had to face on return to England squad

Joe Gomez of England runs during a training session at St George's Park on March 20, 2024 in Burton upon Trent, England. 

Joe Gomez admits he had to overcome a psychological barrier when he returned to England’s training base this week - three years and four months since he sustained a “gruesome” injury at St George’s Park.

And the Liverpool defender says there was an “underlying trauma” when he stepped back onto the training pitch where he was dealt a career-threatening blow in November, 2020. At the time, Gareth Southgate labelled the incident “upsetting” but, after his recall to the squad, Gomez revealed just how physically and mentally challenging the setback was.

Explaining the emotions he felt on going back to St George’s Park and the fateful pitch, he said: “I would be lying if I said it did not have a psychological toll as I left here in an ambulance quite abruptly. It was a bit surreal. I sort of prepared myself, mentally, but I think there was a bit of an underlying trauma that I can draw a line under, coming back. It meant a lot in that sense.

“It was the same pitch. We were doing an 11 v 11 when I got the injury. It was quite unique, it was a patella tendon rupture. I was by myself. I just went to play a pass. I planted my foot and then … it ruptured, it was quite gruesome. My kneecap was halfway up my leg. A lot of it is a blur because it was a bit painful.

“From that point, it was a massive part of my life, probably the hardest point in my career - just that moment because of how it happened. The last time I saw Gareth I was on the bed waiting for the ambulance. It was tough and it is a big part of my journey that I wouldn’t shy away from.

“I’ve moved past it and a big part of my application and my motivation comes from working in that period to get back and I don’t want to lose sight of that because it has shaped me into who I am. It was definitely the hardest point, not just as a footballer but as an individual, not just worrying about the future but having that uncertainty.

“It has helped shape me. I can always lean on it to keep perspective and see the positives. It’s definitely changed my application in terms of everything – recovery, gym work and so on. I’m at peace with what happened.”

Although Gomez returned from the horrific injury in the 2021-22 season, his England career was still on hold before his recent run of stellar club form … and a shout-out to Southgate from Jurgen Klopp on live TV in the wake of Liverpool’s draw against Manchester City.

“Joe Gomez, man! Gareth, come on,” said Klopp. And Gomez, 26, was quick to thank his club boss - and not just for imploring Southgate to give him the nod.

Gomez laughed: “I definitely didn’t ask him to do it! The gaffer at the club is the gaffer. He is one of a kind. I owe a lot to him. He has been probably the biggest influence on my career. It is nice to have that support from your manager. He has been a massive influence on me, not just as a player but as a person. It is special to play under him.”

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