New Zealand’s Alex Rufer is set to make his return to the Wellington Phoenix, signing a two year contract with the A-League club after fighting his way back from a horrendous injury only nine months ago.
A heavy tackle broke the tibia in the attacking midfielder’s right leg, along with his ankle, and amid the intense pain was the thought that his dream of being a professional footballer was over.
“It was a pretty sad day. I was lost. So down,” Rufer said.
“All I ever wanted was to be a professional footballer and the negative thoughts took over at the start,” he added.
“Once I started to feel better my mood improved and I became determined that day wouldn’t end my career.”
Rufer was grateful to have an experienced physiotherapy team on board with the Phoenix to help fast-track his recovery.
“I was told it would be at least 12 months before I could play again but I made it in 9 months and 5 days,” he said.
“I have physios Rob Lee, who has now left the club, and Brent O’Connor to thank for getting me through, and I owe those two a huge debt because they have done a massive job with my recovery and I can’t thank them enough,” he added.
“Now that I’ve come out of it I feel I can come back bigger and stronger.”
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was delighted to have Rufer back in contention for a place.
“The boy has worked really hard to get back to fitness,” he said.
“He has been conscientious with his rehab programme and has been training the house down this pre-season,” he added.
“A footballer’s biggest fear is being out of the game for a long time through injury and not being able to get back.
“Alex has bounced back and all credit to him.”
Rufer’s two-year Wellington Phoenix contract will take him through to May 2018.