Sheffield Wednesday: Fernando Forestieri on playing through injury, who made the choice to delay surgery, rehab in Spain and frustration
'You can play but you will be back to see me '“ it might be a week, it might be five months, but you will be back here.'
A rather ominous warning from an Italian doctor he trusts proved entirely prophetic for Fernando Forestieri.
It also presented a decision that needed to be made – by him, by his personal physiotherapist and by his then head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
All three men were fully aware that Forestieri was living on borrowed time when it came to the condition of his knee.
As his doctor had spelled out, his knee would give out eventually and require surgery. It was only a matter of time.
But Sheffield Wednesday were heading towards a second consecutive Championship play-off campaign, making the ultimate decision of whether to play or go under the knife an even tougher one.
The decision was for the forward to play on, a choice which was repeated again in the summer meaning Forestieri started this season with a ticking timebomb in his knee joint.
By the end of August the bomb had gone off, meaning surgery could be delayed no longer and Forestieri faced missing the majority of the season.
He insists, however, that he has no regrets over the decision.
“What is done is done,” he told The Star.
“Maybe when I had the injury, maybe I need to have the operation straight away.
“But we could play in the play-off so we were fighting for this.
“Last season I played a half season with my injury in my knee.
“Maybe the fans do not know that. I played for three or four months with my injury.
“I knew in last season and in the beginning of this season that something would happen.
“When I went to see the doctor in Italy, he said I could play but in one week or five months you will come to see me again.’
“When I go on the pitch, it doesn’t matter if I feel like I have one leg, I want to give everything for the club.
“In that moment, when I spoke with Carlos and my physio, we decided all together to carry on.
“I knew this bad injury could happen for my career.
“No regrets, no. What’s done is done.
“I’m happy I did this for the chance to give something to the club.
“In that moment, the play-offs, it went the other way. I missed the penalty.
“I take the risk and that was the risk. I am happy. When I go on the pitch, I give everything for this club.”
Following surgery on his knee last August, Forestieri opted to carry out his rehabilitation away from Wednesday, in Spain.
The choice raised a few eyebrows, particularly with the Owls struggling for form in his absence.
But the 28-year-old credits his choice – and the physio with whom he worked, who he credits for getting him fit on multiple occasions – for his ability to return to action this season.
He said: “My physio is in Madrid. When I came to England, I met him in Watford.
“When I came to Sheffield in 2015, my physio is always with me.
“The first season I had in Sheffield, maybe this is something people don’t know, sometimes I could not play one game and I travelled to London because he worked with Watford, he saw me and I played.
“Sometimes I played because of him.
“This is another thing because the fans don’t know what happened in the club.”
Statements such as the last one appear at regular intervals during the conversation but Forestieri repeatedly stops himself before giving away a great deal.
On a handful of occasions he says he cannot say more, but does so with a smile that suggests he would like to. Forestieri certainly suggests he feels frustrated with certain things that have happened during his time at Hillsborough.
He appears frustrated with how his injury was handled but contradicts himself by emphasising his own part in the decision to play on.
His latest frustration seems to centre on the length of time it has taken for him to return to action, with the feeling he could have been back in Wednesday colours sooner after returning to Sheffield in the New Year.
He said: “I hope I can play now, to finish good. For my rehabilitation and how I play.
“I want to play.
“I did a lot of good things in Spain. To rehabilitate the cruciate in four months is not normal.
“Now it is six months.
“I am happy to be back.”
Owls manager Jos Luhukay has confirmed Forestieri will be part of his matchday squad for Good Friday’s clash with Preston North End following his goalscoring return for the club’s Under 23s on Monday.
And the forward is focused on helping to deliver a positive end to what has been a disappointing campaign both personally and for the club.
“I hope I can play some good part,” he said.
“I am sure me and the players that are here will give 200 per cent.
“We need to give something to the fans because they deserve it.
“We need to give them something important.”