Danny Rose used a psychologist to help deal with one of the most difficult periods of his life, with jealousy and anger underpinned by despair during the Tottenham and England left-back’s lengthy injury lay-off.
A knee complaint that looked set to keep the 27-year-old out for weeks instead sidelined him for eight tortuous months, seeing him go under the knife in May.
It was a gut punch that left Rose reeling and meant that Sunday’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace was his first full match since January.
The left-back was surprised just how good he felt after a bog-standard afternoon for Tottenham that meant the world to the former Leeds United academy product.
“I have been impressed, jealous, angry – I have been through a whole load of emotions,” Rose said of watching Spurs from the sidelines.
“I’ve just been itching to get going for the past couple of weeks and I’m just grateful that I’m back in amongst it now.
This injury has been one of the most difficult periods of my life, but you have got to try and think of positives in any situation. I just hope that I can stay fit and pick up where I left off last season.Danny Rose
“I have started seeing a psychologist to try and help me think positive. I’m also reading books to try and help keep me positive as well.
“This injury has been one of the most difficult periods of my life, but you have got to try and think of positives in any situation. I just hope that I can stay fit and pick up where I left off last season.”
Rose spoke frankly and openly in a wide-ranging interview, offering a glimpse into the depths elite athletes can plummet during difficult times.
“Last season I was doing well,” he said. “I felt untouchable, I felt like I was one of the best.
“I felt that if I carried on with that form, anything could have happened.
“Then the injury happened. It humbled me, it brought me back down to earth, it gave me a reality check.
“It just made me realise that football can be taken away from you at any given point.”
Working with a psychologist has been a “massive help” and Rose, who has had four or five sessions, intends to keep doing so. The left-back sees it as a way to help “make the right decisions going forward” as much as staying fit.
Rose apologised for breaking ranks during his injury to question aspects of how Tottenham was run and is now chomping at the bit to shine for them – opportunities that acted as a chink of light when the tunnel was at its darkest.
“It was only probably two months ago that I was doing some rehab here (at St George’s Park) and I lost my appetite for wanting to get back fit,” he said. “Because I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. Seeing Tottenham play against Dortmund at Wembley and seeing them win, and having the whole Madrid trip to look forward to, it brought my appetite and hunger back for football.”
Rose needed to continue his rehabilitation in Burton as it had become “really difficult” seeing the same faces and same four walls every day at Tottenham, but his return to training meant he “fell in love with football again”
“Setting deadlines in my head that ‘I am going to be fit in one week’, ‘two weeks’, and then breaking down and not getting there,” he said, when asked about the hardest moments he endured.
“Watching Tottenham on TV doing ever so well, watching England change formation to three at the back – in a formation that I have done really well in at club level – all contributed and it put me in a real difficult place.
“I have learnt that it’s good to talk to people, not to sit back on your own and think about things by yourself.
“It’s good to talk to people and get other people’s information and opinions – and just share your problems, whatever you’re going through. I wish I would have done that at the start of my injury, and I’m doing it now and I am going to continue that for a very long time.”
Rose cannot speak highly enough about the support of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and England boss Gareth Southgate, who was bold enough to bring him back into international set-up despite making just three club appearances. “It’s amazing, I can’t thank him enough,” Rose said ahead of the friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
“It just shows the confidence he has in my ability and I am going to do everything over the next 10 days, over the six, seven months to prove to him that he’s not made a bad decision in bringing me back into the fold.”
Rose is dreaming about a place at the World Cup – even if it feels “surreal” to think that about playing at a tournament he first watched in 1998 – but knows he has to make up for lost time. “I can’t cry about it, I just have to use the time that I’ve been given now to try and force my way back into his plans.”