Chloe Kelly could not face watching the Olympics last summer as she recovered from the knee injury that had ruled her out – a time the winger says “seems like so long ago” now.
Kelly’s hopes of being part of Great Britain’s squad for the Tokyo Games were ended after she sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in May last year.
The 24-year-old Manchester City forward returned to club action in April, and was then brought back into the England fold as Sarina Wiegman included her in her squad for this summer’s home Euros.
Speaking ahead of the Lionesses’ final group game against Northern Ireland at St Mary’s on Friday, Kelly said when asked about the contrast between last summer and now: “I didn’t actually watch any of the Olympics because I couldn’t actually face watching it.
“That was difficult for me, but I knew I had to focus on my rehab and my journey in that moment.”
Kelly did watch England’s matches in the men’s Euros last summer, on television and then attending the Wembley final.
And she said: “I was enjoying watching games but then my knee would stiffen up.
“It was a very difficult summer last year. But looking back, that seems like so long ago and I’m just enjoying myself here. I forget sometimes that I was injured, because since my injury I’ve just come back and I’m enjoying my football.”
Kelly, who has come off the bench in England’s two group games so far, the 1-0 win over Austria and 8-0 thrashing of Norway, says she has a “completely different look on things now and a different mentality” after the experience of her time on the sidelines.
“I enjoy myself, I’m just living in the moment, enjoy the moment, and when something like that happens to you and you’re away from the game for so long I think nothing really fazes you after,” she said.
“Before, I’d get quite nervous for games – I don’t really have those nerves as I did because I’m thinking ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ I’ve been through the worst that’s happened to me so far.
Operation was a success 👊🏻 Day 1️⃣ of the road to recovery 💪🏼✨ pic.twitter.com/sOkXMz5QoZ
— Chloe (@Chloe_Kelly98) May 13, 2021
“So I enjoy every moment, playing with no fear.”
Kelly says something she found “really helpful” after getting injured was being contacted by her England team-mate Jordan Nobbs, the Arsenal midfielder who missed out on selection for the 2019 World Cup after suffering an ACL injury.
And she says she has been in touch with her former Everton team-mate Simone Magill after the Northern Ireland forward’s Euros was ended by the same issue.
Another player to have recently suffered an ACL injury, ruling her out of the tournament, is Spain’s Ballon d’Or-winning midfielder Alexia Putellas.
Kelly was asked if she thought there was more research that could be done regarding ACL injuries in women’s football, and said “of course” before adding: “For me, I said it to my physio at the end of the rehab – why does everyone fear it so much? Why is it this person has done their ACL and then there’s just a negativity that goes with it?
“We put nine to 12 months on it as soon as it happens. Throughout my injury I always thought I’d be back sooner, but then there was always in the back of your head that people say it’s nine to 12 months. I had a phase in my rehab where I actually believed I’d be back in seven, but I had a setback and I wasn’t.
“I think the negativity around ACLs, more than the research, is something I would like changing because as soon as someone does their ACL it’s like ‘will they be back as they were before?’ But why not? Because you’re putting everything into it just like another injury.
“I think the negative noise around ACLs is probably what I would like to change in the future. It is difficult but so is any injury. I think going through rehab when there is so much noise around how bad it is probably makes it worse than what it actually is.”