In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Callum Wilson explains how his rehabilitation from knee injury hell has made him stronger than ever and how he hopes to make up for lost time by helping remove Bournemouth’s “small-club” label.
When you mention the name Callum Wilson, several things jump to mind; lightning pace, ruthless finishing and an infectious character, both on and off the pitch.
But you’d also be forgiven for reflecting on the back-to-back cruciate ligament injuries in both knees which kept him out of action for 14 months, just as he managed to gain exposure in the Premier League.
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It was a cruel twist of fate that many footballers have to contend with throughout their careers, but in Wilson’s case, it seemed a particularly harsh setback, one which wrangles with the 27-year-old to this day.
“I guess I would be happy with how my career has gone up to this point,” he told Sky Sports.
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“A few injuries on the way have hampered me and probably taken two years out of my career so, ideally, I’d be where I am now but at 25 years of age and in a much better position.
“I would have got to that had it not been for those setbacks, but you cannot change it, that’s happened. I am grateful for where I am now and I’ve obviously still got a lot more to give and to go. I want to keep achieving things throughout the next few years of my career.”
Stronger than ever
Since his arrival in the Premier League with Bournemouth in 2015, Wilson’s injuries have seen him miss 61 matches in a little over three seasons, just shy of 40 per cent of the Cherries’ games.
In the same tumultuous period, he scored 33 times in the Premier League and gained international recognition with England, becoming the first Bournemouth player to score for the Three Lions with a debut goal against the United States in November 2018.
Such achievements and statistics make you wonder where Wilson would be at had it not been for his misfortune with injuries. But having delivered his best return for goals, 14, and assists, 10, in the Premier League last season, he looks to have re-emerged even stronger.
“If anything, the injury has made me stronger,” he adds. “Now I know about the body more, how mine works, and I feel stronger than ever.
“I am fully in sync with how my body works and what I need to do to feel good and stay good. Without getting those setbacks I wouldn’t have had that knowledge.
“Nobody likes getting injured but getting injured when I did was probably the best time, while I was young, fit and healthy.
“If I’d have done it when I was 30, people would have written me off even more. I had age on my side at the time, you recover quicker when you are younger, and it hasn’t held me back. I want to kick on now, put that behind me and keep making up for lost time.”
Leave ‘small-club’ label behind
Bournemouth’s first two matches of the season have produced a draw and a win against newly-promoted Sheffield United and Aston Villa.
It’s a record identical to their next opponents, champions Manchester City, who travel to the Vitality Stadium on Renault Super Sunday – live on Sky Sports Premier League – the next challenge in Bournemouth and Wilson’s bid to progress.