After his Adelaide United Youth Team start on Saturday afternoon, Jordan Elsey experienced competitive football for the first time in over 450 days.
After a string of promising performances for Adelaide United’s first team, the world was seemingly at Jordan Elsey’s feet. But football can be cruel and unforgiving and his successful run was short-lived.
Elsey first suffered a double break in his left arm whilst in training in Alice Springs with the Reds before later finding out he had also broken a bone in his right arm. And whilst Elsey was able to bounce back from it, his return to football was only brief.
“At first I was tackled in training while we were in Alice Springs and broke two bones in my left arm and was forced to fly back to Adelaide to get surgery on it straight away,” Elsey explained.
“Then, two weeks later, I found out my right arm was also broken, which was a bit of a bummer to say the least.
“So I had two casts on for about seven weeks. After that I had been training with the Youth Team for a bit and I went in for a tackle and felt a pop in my knee. Just like that I’d done the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in my left knee.
“After about ten months from that my doctors found some scar tissue in my joint that was restricting the movement in my left leg so that had to be taken out and that was a further six week setback.”
Yet despite the injuries and setbacks, Elsey returned to competitive football with the Young Reds last Saturday, lasting 75 minutes at the heart of the Youth Team’s defence and at no point felt like he would re-injure anything.
As can be expected, Elsey said he was filled with the strangest concoction of emotions, feeling thrilled to be back doing what he does best, but at the same time just generally weird that he was playing football again after such a long time.
But it wasn’t as if he was sitting at home sulking over it all. His work didn’t stop.
Of course there was the extensive bouts of rehabilitation, yet Elsey still attended training, eagerly watching and learning the countless movements made by his teammates, mentally placing every pass and lunging into every tackle.
“It felt weird and amazing at the same time to be out on the park again,” Elsey said.
“I was a bit shaky at the very start of the game, but I’ve been in full training for about three weeks and so I knew what to expect.
“I wasn’t out of my comfort zone and it was definitely a good feeling to play in front of my family and friends for the first time in a long time.
“I wasn’t worried about any of my injuries coming back during the game either. I knew that I had done all of my rehab right and it had put me in the perfect position to play again.
“I felt comfortable out there and I felt fit and strong, all the things I felt before my injuries.
“For over a year now, I’ve been out at training and watching everything, not just at home recovering there. I’ve been taking in what everyone else has been doing and I’ve been learning all the movements.
“Having gone so long without playing a match, I didn’t really know what level I was going to be at, but I managed to play for 75 minutes and I got through it really well.”
Looking towards the rest of the season, Elsey’s mind is now firmly on one thing: regaining his full match fitness and returning to first team football.
“For the rest of the season I want to soak in as much first team football as I can and see what happens from there.
“Getting back to playing like I was playing before would be massive for me and I just want to help the boys out as much as possible from now on.
“I’ll continue to gain more match fitness and I’d love to be on the bench for the first team and get back into that environment more with boys and travelling with them as soon as possible.
“I just have to keep staying positive and working hard like I have since the start.”
Adelaide United will face Wellington Phoenix in Round 6 of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season on Friday, 13 November, 2015, at Westpac Stadium. Kick off is at 5.00pm ACDT.