'I couldn't run anymore' - Leeds United star was plagued for months with pain but played on

Rodrigo can empathise with Leeds United team-mate Patrick Bamford because foot pain blighted the first three months of his season.

By Graham Smyth
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 5:33 pm

A torn plantar fascia is the latest injury in a torrid campaign for Bamford, who previously damaged his ankle, his hamstring and his quad to miss 20 games in total.

Bamford returned to the starting XI at Wolves but lasted just 23 minutes before limping off in agony and in tears. Rodrigo knows all too well, from his own painful personal experience, what his fellow striker is going through.

Speaking to the YEP, he revealed that he got to a point earlier this season where he could no longer put side before self.

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“It was a really bad moment for me because it’s a terrible pain,” he said. “This problem in my feet started in pre-season more or less, in the middle of pre-season and was getting worse week by week.

“It’s really painful, I felt really uncomfortable and played with pain for a long time until I couldn’t manage the pain and the feeling any more. I had to stop for six weeks more or less. I think it’s more or less what Pat has now and I completely understand what he feels because it’s really painful.”

The revelation will perhaps better inform the judgement of Rodrigo’s second season at Leeds, after a first that was also disrupted by injuries. Being in such discomfort made it difficult for him to show the best of his ability, particularly in a league boasting as much quality as the Premier League.

“At this level, one per cent is a big gap and, when you feel something, of course you can train, you can play but not at the peak level of your performance,” he said.

FOOT PROBLEM - Rodrigo, like Leeds United team-mate Patrick Bamford, was in agony when he tried to run due to a foot problem. Pic: Getty

“It affects not just me but any player that has any kind of problem or injury like this. Sometimes we try to manage the pain, to manage with treatment and medication but the pain is there and it creates a limitation on the performance.

“It was important for me after the [November] international break that I had to stop, it was important in that moment because I couldn’t manage the pain anymore.”

Rodrigo returned from Spain duty and sat out the November game against Spurs but was back in action less than a week later at Brighton. He lacked impact in the 0-0 draw because, as is now clear, he was struggling to run.

“I remember the game against Brighton, the last 10 or 15 minutes I was literally walking on the pitch because I couldn’t run any more,” he said.

“Of course it affects players. It’s difficult. A professional football player is a natural competitor, we want to compete, to perform in the best way and help the team. We have our individual goals for our careers or the season or whatever. It’s not a good moment, it’s a sad moment, a bad moment but, with time, you realise this is part of our careers, it’s part of football and you have to be smart and be clever to manage these situations and keep believing, keep working, taking care of your body and try to be in the best shape as possible.

“Nowadays in football, you need to be at 110 per cent to perform at a good level, especially in the Premier League because it’s a very physical league.”

A weeping Bamford was consoled at Molineux by captain Liam Cooper and Rodrigo can also offer solace, in the form of experience and optimism. In recent weeks he has returned from foot pain and returned to the goals, scoring in each of the wins over Norwich City and Wolves.

His performances in both games were a world apart from some of his pain-impacted displays earlier this season. Leeds hope Bamford can follow in those footsteps.

“I’ve had a complete recovery, thank God, and I’m feeling really good now,” said Rodrigo.

“I’m feeling well now and I have for a few weeks, 100 per cent. I just want to finish the season well.”