Ryan Mason has admitted that returning to the Tigers’ training ground in recent days feels like a significant step as he continues to take his recovery from the fractured skull sustained in January day by day.
In his first interview since suffering the injury against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which is available to watch on our Official YouTube Channel now, Mason talks about his recovery to date including:
- Realising that his life was in danger after the ‘one in a million’ incident
- His struggles with fatigue and noisy environments
- The overwhelming support of the football world and the wider community
- How a conversation with Petr Cech has been a huge source of encouragement
- How his outlook on life has changed
Despite almost four months passing, and undergoing major surgery in the immediate aftermath of the aerial collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill, Mason still has a clear recollection of events that afternoon.
“I remember everything about it clearly,” said the 25-year-old midfielder.
“It was one of those unfortunate incidents that happen in football sometimes. Luckily I had the right people around me from the second it happened and I have been recovering ever since.
“At that stage it was a bit of an eye-opener as to what can happen to you at any time. It’s a scary moment when you’re on a football pitch and realise that your life is in danger – it was a one in a million kind of thing.
“Thankfully the doctors and all of the medical people around me knew what was happening straight away and they handled it with great care and professionalism. I appreciate everything they did for me on that day.”
After surgery, Mason remained in hospital for eight days before being allowed to return home to continue the very early stages of his recovery.
“I was literally just sleeping all of the time and I was struggling with fatigue, not to mention the pain,” he continued.
“I couldn’t stand any noise and I couldn’t hold a conversation, but that is all part of it with something like this. I had six-to-eight weeks of pretty much nothing in my house, so it was great when I felt able to talk to people again, including my team-mates and the gaffer.”
Another person Mason has spoken to in recent weeks is current Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Cech suffered a depressed fracture of the skull while playing for Chelsea in 2006 but returned to cement his position as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
“It was fantastic to speak to somebody like Petr because he has been through something similar. He has given me advice and he talked to me about what to expect. He’s told me not to worry about certain things, and mentally and psychologically it has been great to spend time talking to him.
“You look at what Petr came back to achieve after his head injury and it is quite remarkable.
“There are plenty of studies that look at such injuries, but you can never fully understand it until you have been in this situation yourself. I’m very grateful that Petr reached out to me and my family and took the time to come and see me to help us through this.”
Mason’s recovery took its next major step late last week when he made a first return to the Tigers’ training ground in Cottingham and although it is taking time for him to adjust to the environment, he is glad to be back amongst his team-mates.
“Coming back to the training ground is a massive step for me,” Mason revealed.
“There were times when I just couldn’t be around noise, and people talking in the same room would have been too much for me.
“But I feel this is the right time to come back here. I’m still a bit wary of the environment because the training ground is a loud place when you’ve got 30 or 40 lads all in the same room, so I’m taking it steady and respecting what my body is telling me.”
The obvious question to Mason now is ‘what next?’ But as he explains, it really is a case of taking it day by day.
“There’s no timescale on anything and I’m just taking each day as it comes. I’ve got some strength back but I’m still dealing with a lot of fatigue. Like I said, I’m respecting my body and listening to what it is telling me – what I can do, I will do and what I can’t do, I won’t.
“There will come a time when I can really kick on, and I hope that will be soon, but I aren’t going to push things when it’s not necessary.
“I’m still having appointments with the surgeon and people who specialise in balance down in London, and that’s in addition to the medical staff at the Club who have been fantastic.”
And what about Mason’s outlook on life now – has it changed?
“When something serious like this happens, of course your outlook and perspective changes. I’ve always been one to appreciate what I have and the people around me, but something like this makes you appreciate all of that a lot more.
“I want to enjoy every day now and every day I spend at this football club. I’ll have a smile on my face. I want to enjoy time with my family and my fiancé.
“I want to enjoy life. I’m happy now that I am in a positive place, my mind is right and I’m looking forward to recovering and coming back a better player.”