Limping linchpin: Koscielny's path from injury hell to Arsenal's inspiration | Soccer

T he snatches of thoughts flashed through his mind in a crisis moment, was like a brutal cinema scene. Just over a year ago, Laurent Koscielny was on the track at Atlético Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano, a hand in the ball in a tight fist pushing the ground into unbearable frustration, the other squeezed to his ankle.

His mind whirred back to a conversation with Francis Coquelin, who had just been through a break in the place where he felt overwhelming pain. "Like a knife cut your achilles." It was the feeling. "The pain, from one to 1[ads1]0, is a 11." There had been no impact. His body just gave everything in itself.

Arsenal's medical teams rushed over and Koscielny's wails gave away the severity of the injury. "He was not screaming in pain, it was a worse cry – for fear, of anxiety, of anxiety," recalls the clubgirl Gary O & D; 39; Driscoll. Koscienly shouted that Diego Costa had kicked him. The Atletico striker came over and dropped the drug on his shoulder. He told the doctor he didn't kick him. He had heard a snap.

Later, while attending the dressing room, Koscielny received a resident Antoine Griezmann, who acknowledged a serious injury at this time, could only mean one thing. The countrymen squeezed. There were not enough words. Koscielny tried to treat a lot. "My game is over. My season is over. My World Cup is over," he remembers thinking. Then, at age 32, with all years stretching each sinus for the defensive cause, it would just be natural to feel crushed by the consequences, the likelihood of complete recovery.

June, St-Raphaël, Cote d & # 39; Azur. After an operation to repair the rupture, Koscielny returned to France for rehabilitation with a specialist. It is not uncommon for a player with a long-term training team to change the stage for this phase. "For me it wasn't a vacation," he recalls, discussing the severity required under Stronger, a detailed documentary made by Arsenal to map his way back from injury. For 10 weeks he trained with relentless involvement. "When you are in shape, you have many friends and many people who love you. When you are injured, all these people forget you. You miss many things. You miss the love of your teammates, you miss the path, you miss all the calls,

Koscielny sent a message to the French team that Didier Deschamps released to the whole team. Olivier Giroud, who goes far back with his friend from Ligue 2 Tours, found it particularly affected. "He wrote a letter in the first place to tell us it is important that we work well together and act as a team rather than a bunch of individuals. A strong message, says Giroud.

  Laurent Koscielny suffers from his Achilles injury at Atlético Madrid in May of May.

Laurent Koscielny suffers from his Achilles injury in Atlético Madrid in May of May. Photo: Juan Medina / Reuters

The refurbishment is gradual. Walking, climbing, jumping, running, obstacles, ball work and sprinting. With each milestone, Koscielny sent videos to Arsenal's medical team in London. They were amazed at how elastic he was. "What people on the outside don't see is just how difficult it is to keep motivation, to be determined and driven to do real worldly, boring, repetitive exercises, that you can't see progress from," says Driscoll. . "It's extremely frustrating for athletes who have played at the highest level. The way Laurent responded was first class. Every question is: can I do more?"

July, Luzhniki stadium, Moscow. Koscielny was invited to participate in the World Cup final. He went, even though he admits he had mixed feelings. In jeans and a white shirt he felt a step removed from the purity of the joy experienced by the teammates who did it.

December, London Colney. After seven months of diligent rehab, Koscielny was told he was ready to return to the track. He played four games in 13 days – an extraordinary gamble. Arsenal was a dull lack of defensive players due to injuries and suspensions. Koscielny was not given the chance to ease the way back to sharpness. He was rusty, and critics threw judgment and judgment quickly. Doubting he could rediscover his old qualities so he could regain the standards that made him such an important defender with his club was about to be.

April, Emirates Stadium. All doubts were eradicated. This time, the syllable was three games in nine days and Koscielny was outstanding. Leading the defense that built a series of clean sheets in vital matches against Manchester United, Rennes and then Naples in the Europa League, summed up his wholehearted efforts on the path of opposition he showed for months to return to his best level. Alexandre Lacazette speaks for the entire team as he outlines his admiration. He worked all summer to get back as soon as possible, and when he returned he played four games in a row after a major injury. It is very hard. He has helped us all season to be better in defense. We all have great respect for Laurent. "

  Laurent Koscielny is preparing to take Arsenal to Baku for the Europa League final.

Laurent Koscielny is preparing for the plane and takes Arsenal to Baku for the Europa League final. Photo: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Mai, Europa League final, Baku. When he leads out Arsenal on Wednesday, there will be a moment of personal justice. An almost 34-year-old who goes with a long walk, a player who has spent nearly a decade at the club since signing for £ 8m, who worked from being a replacement in the French division to an international, was never anyone likely to give up light. He never thought harm would signal the end of his career. "You're a better person. You're a better man. When you come back you're so hungry. I don't agree with people who say you're not as strong as before. I think you're more mentally strong than people who don't had an injury that you had. Playing again is the best trophy I could have ". Now another important one is 90 minutes away.

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