To AbdulSalam AbdulSalam of Kwara United Football Club, football is his passion, it’s his life. But on March 15, 2020, that passion, that life, was almost sniffed out of him, when he had fracture in the second minute into the Week 24 encounter of the NPFL 2019/2020, between Kwara United FC and Wikki Tourists of Bauchi.
It happened so fast, and despite the noise accompanying the incidence at the almost filled up Main-Bowl of the Kwara State Stadium Complex, the loud crack…the horror cry that followed was as loud as the sound of the thunder. What followed was the quietness of the grave, as all eyes focused on the man with the broken leg, writhing on the pitch.
The accident nearly killed the enthusiasm in the spectators, some of whom bemoans the fate of the promising young player, AbdulSalam AbdulSalam.
They kept asking questions, how did it happen? Will he be able to play again? Will he get the right treatment? And what followed these pessimistic adjectives were cries and lamentations by his fans, spectators and others who felt for him, as they all held the believe that the ugly incidence might be the end of his footballing career.
Just like he too had the same believe….”when I had that fracture, I thought it was over for me and football, especially having such a magnitude of injury in Nigeria. Coming back was by the grace of God”
“I had entered the field with great enthusiasm and determination, been the first match I will be in the starting lineup. And the desire to make the difference, and prove that I can start games well, instead of coming on as substitute was burning in me.
“Football is my everything, because I have passion for it from my tender age. I cried because of football. I don’t like defeat at all. I believe in myself. I started the game from the streets. I love the game so much.
He was carried off the field, to the state General Hospital, from where the rehabilitation process started. And three months after, he started walking, and that was when the seemingly lost hope started to come back to reality, until when, 21 months later, he returned to the same pitch, as he was introduced in the second half of the 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) match between Kwara United Football Club and Dakkada FC on Sunday December 19, 2021.
“When I was taken to the hospital that very day, I was admitted to the Emergency Section, and the first stabilization started, and it went well. I was later admitted into the Ward, and there, I looked at other patients surrounding me at the Ward, and that was when I knew that, despite what happened to me, I really needed to thank God.
“Apart from what was happening at the General Hospital, I contacted some specialists who offered various forms of assistance and support. They helped me through the treatment processes, and I started walking after three months.
“Not playing the game that I felt in love with for almost two years was frustrating, and traumatic. That period was traumatic and frustrating, because when I started walking, I saw myself as a little kid who was learning how to put his foot on ground. I was being taught how to walk again, and it wasn’t easy at all. The rehabilitation was so hard for me, but I want to thank my physiotherapist, Dr. Funmilayo Egwu of Physio Things in Kaduna state, who was always putting me through and monitoring my movements. I did many videos and all that.
And how does he manage the frustration of watching football from the stands, during the rehabilitation processes?
“When I was coming back gradually, it was frustrating watching my colleagues from the stands, because I was always thinking if I could be able to play again. It was very hard managing those moments. But as time goes on, what really gave me joy was that, whenever I come to the field, I was able to do things I had been doing with the ball before the fracture.
The great come back of AbdulSalam AbdulSalam into the game tells a lot about the health and medical systems of Kwara United FC, under the Chairmanship of Clement Kumbi Titiloye. The club places top priority on medical and welfare schemes, all of which is bringing out positive response from the players, the officials and staffers of the club.
The same medical systems had revived the seemingly ending careers of players like Wasiu Alalade, who now plays for Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan, Ejeh Isaiah, Joshua Agboola and Taiwo Salaudeen, all of whom have been cured of career threatening injuries at one time or the other.
Asides all the care and attention enjoyed by the player throughout the 21 months, his name was still on the pay-roll of the club.
“I want to really commend the management, because, from the very moment I had that fracture up till the time I came back, they were there for me. They did a lot, and also monitored my recovery rate, and at the end of it all, I was registered for the ongoing season. And that was because, I performed excellently well at the Governor Dapo Abiodun Pre-Season competition in Ijebu-Ode in October.
“The management supported me. They didn’t give up on me. In some clubs, it would have been a different story, and that may be the end. They believed in what I had done, and what I can also do. I thank them a lot.
AbdulSalam AbdulSalam came back fully at the Pre-Season tournament, as he played all Kwara United FC matches at the competition. He actually began real competitive football again on October 12, 2021, in Kwara United’s first match at the tournament against Shooting Stars Sports Club. And on Sunday December 19, 2021, he returned to the NPFL action against Dakkada FC, in Ilorin, on the same pitch where he sustained the fracture.
“I was part of the team in Ijebu-Ode during the Pre-Season tournament. I played all the matches, beginning with the match against Shooting Stars Sports Club, up till the final match against the same club, which we won, to win the trophy.
“And against Dakkada FC, when I was brought in for the match, I looked up and thank Almighty Allah, for the great opportunity to play the game again. When I was at the sideline about to be introduced, I heard some noise about me coming back again….and it was an additional motivation for me. I thank God.
“I want to also thank my coaches, the other officials and my colleagues. They gave me the hope that I can play the game again. Their prayers and encouragement, coupled with my believe in God, gave me hope. They were fantastic. When I was coming back gradually, I was nearly carried away by anxiety. Anytime I tried pushing myself beyond limit, they will call me back, and tell me to calm down.
“I equally want to commend Kwara United medical team. I will want to also thank the club’s Psychologist, Gbenga Akinola and Prince Ibrahim Taiwo for their support. They were wonderful.
AbdulSalam AbdulSalam is from Offa, Offa Local Government of Kwara state. He was born and brought up in Kaduna state, where he also began his football career. He started with an Academy named Peak Football Academy, from where he joined another Academy, Ace Football Academy, also in Kaduna. He later joined Royal Stars FC, a Nigeria National League (NNL) side, where he spent three seasons. He joined Kwara United FC from Royal Stars FC before the start of the 2018/2019 season.
“Kwara United FC is a great club. It’s my first NPFL club. They show me love, and also believed in me. And now that I am back, I will strive to repay the club with good display anytime I am called to duty.
AbdulSalam AbdulSalam is back, but what would have happened to the winger if he couldn’t make it back?
“Well, if the injury had ended my career, I would have gone back to my furniture making vocation. Before I decided playing professional football, I learnt furniture making in Kaduna state, and I know it very well. I graduated, and today, I am the boss of myself. I can handle both interior and exterior works.
“And when that accident happened, I was already thinking that I may fall back to that if I can’t play again. But I must thank the people around me …my family, my sister, her husband and children, they really tried for me, and I cannot thank them enough.