Djibril Cisse’s surprise addition to the squad for tonight’s Champions League game came out of the blue and was unexpected by all.
He broke his leg badly in October against Blackburn, and Liverpool’s club doctor – Mark Waller – probably saved his career with prompt action he took that night.
Waller was interviewed by the club website last month and recalled what his first thoughts were after Cisse had been hurt: “It was a strange one because when a player suffers a nasty fracture like Djibril did they usually lie still on the pitch. Djibril rolled over, then got up onto his knees as though he was going to try and stand up, then he sat up and then started rolling around again. From the position we had, although we saw the incident, it looked fairly innocuous and not too bad. Then some of the players started to summon us over and that’s when we realised something was wrong. When we got there he was obviously in some distress and it was clear very quickly that he had done something serious.”
Then began the prompt actions that saved not only Cisse’s career, but possibly also his leg: “From our point of view there were then two things to do. Firstly we had to alleviate the pain which we managed to do with entinox and the other was to try and immobilise the fracture so that we could then transport him properly to an area where we could examine the injury properly. We took him to the treatment room where it was clean, warm and with good lighting so we could cut off his boot and sock to get to the leg and make a formal assessment. One of the things you look for when you see an injury as bad as Djibril’s is whether he has suffered either any nerve injury or any vascular injury. I found that he had lost the blood supply to his foot. He had a shortened, slightly angulated lower leg with no pulses in his foot. There are a couple of reasons why that could have happened, he could either have severed the artery or the broken bone could have been pressing against the artery.”
Liverpool have an x-ray facility at their ground to help assess injuries quickly, but this wasn’t the case at Ewood park, and so the medical staff had to make a decision: “We could spend an hour or two getting to the hospital and have the leg x-rayed or we could grab the leg and manipulate it. We took the second option and if we’d taken the first and gone to hospital then he wouldn’t have done as well as he has since because in the time spent getting to the hospital he would have suffered even more damage. In order to manipulate the leg we had to give him a good analgaesic which almost put him to sleep and he honestly has no recollection whatsoever of what we did to him in that room. Fortunately, with one pull of the leg we managed to get it in a good position and at the same time return the blood flow to his foot. It meant he only had a lack of blood going to his foot for three or four minutes, which is not a big problem.
Team work behind the scenes was important that night: “Everything was done very quickly. The doctor at Blackburn and Dave Galley our physiotherapist were excellent and we worked as a team with one doing one thing and one doing another. From the treatment room we made sure he was stable and then took him to hospital for x-rays. We then found that the position we’d got his leg into was acceptable overnight and we then transferred him to a private hospital.”
Waller confirmed that Cisse’s injury was extremely serious: “When any player has what’s called a commimuted fracture of their tibia and fibula then it’s a potentially hazardous injury for them. I don’t want to be dramatic about it but a number of players haven’t been able to continue their football careers after this injury.”
When this interview was given, nobody expected Cisse to be fit this season – even pre-season training was no certainty. So obviously Cisse was pleased at the progress he made: The Frenchman said: “It has been a very difficult time for me, very difficult. So it is a wonderful feeling just to be on the pitch again, never mind being involved in the Champions League. It is hard to explain how I can be back so quickly. A lot of it happens in your head. But because of the support I have had I have always been able to remain positive.”
Cisse then went on to praise Waller and the other medical staff that did so much for him that night: “When they took me from the field what they did was so important for my career. My bones were overlapping and I had no circulation in my foot. They had to pull my bones back into place with their hands. If they had waited until I got to the hospital I might have lost my leg. After that, there was never a moment when I felt I wouldn’t play again. No matter how bad it was, I always knew how much worse it could be.”
Now he feels his best way of saying thank you is to do what he was bought for – to score goals: “I want to thank everyone by being a success here. I am ready to play against Juventus. I said to the manager ‘I don’t want to play just for my own pleasure, I want to be right for the team’. I feel I can be. It will be great to be part of the Champions League and maybe get to the final. I feel we can do that. The perfect end for me would be to play in the Champions League final. Who knows? Maybe I could score the winner. What a dream that would be.”
If Cisse’s dream does come true, Liverpool will be able to fund the new stadium selling bottles of water from Melwood with its magical healing properties.