Hectic? Tell me about it. I’ve been called an Energizer Bunny on the pitch, but I think my brain could sprint laps around my physical self. It never stops running. I hope that by the end of this post, everyone, including myself, will have a better understanding as to where my mind has been running when it comes to my tortoise-speed physical recovery, and more importantly, my career.
I made a quick breakdown of my injuries:
2005: Fractured eye socket in England
2010: Broken leg vs. Netherlands
2011: Fractured femoral condyle (broken leg/knee) vs. Manchester United
2011: Second surgery for cartilage after pin came loose in left knee
2013: Torn ACL, right knee (Gold Cup Final)
2014: Second torn ACL, right knee (Bolton)
I’ll just get right into the not-so-elusive elephant in the room: Retirement.
The dreaded word is a prominent one in my mind, but every time I think about it, another part of me is screaming, “NO, STUART, IT’S NOT YOUR TIME FOR THE ‘R’ WORD!” It’s not that I am worried as to what I will do or how I will provide for my family in retirement. I always knew playing soccer wasn’t a “forever” career, but it’s hard for me to think about retiring now and not having the chance to “go out” in the way I always imagined I would. How do you end a chapter of your life that has defined you for over 20 years, when the conclusion to that chapter seems very much unresolved?
This thought consumes me daily. With the accumulation of every injury, all signs point to retirement, but as soon as I start accepting my fate off the field, the universe sends me signals that it’s not time. My body tells me I’m fit and strong, and I pass every test in the gym and on the field. However, I’ve passed all of those tests before, and then my body failed me upon my return to previous teams.
Stuart Holden has consistently been given the short end of the stick in his soccer career. He has shown brilliant flashes of promise to be one of the more important players on the USMNT and continuously failed to live up to those expectations due to injury. Every time he got injured he fought his way back only to get brutally injured again and again. It is heartbreaking to see and I can only imagine what he’s been through. The worst part is he seems like a genuinely good guy who just can’t catch a break. However, I’ve always hoped he wouldn’t give up because he had too much talent to fade away into obscurity. He deserves his swan song even if he never reaches the heights he once played at. After all he’s been through he’s earned to go out the way he dreamed of rather than the way fate wanted him to.