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Last time I trained with England I left in ambulance with gruesome injury… now I’m grabbing my second chance, says Gomez

MEMORIES came flooding back for Joe Gomez at St George’s Park this week — and none of them were particularly nice.

Understandably, the Liverpool defender was incredibly anxious when he returned to the Sir Bobby Charlton training pitch at the national football centre.

Joe Gomez has been recalled to the England squad

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Joe Gomez has been recalled to the England squadCredit: Getty
The defender hasn't been in the squad since 2020

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The defender hasn’t been in the squad since 2020Credit: Getty – Contributor

The previous time he kicked a ball here, in November 2020, Gomez suffered a horrific knee injury which saw him loaded on to an ambulance and whisked to hospital for emergency surgery.

Gomez was ruled out for nine months but only now, almost 3½ years later and thanks to his fine form on Merseyside in a variety of positions, has the South Londoner truly rediscovered the form he was enjoying before disaster struck.

When you consider it was also in the St George’s Park restaurant where he was involved in a bust-up with Raheem Sterling in 2019, you can see why this place has negative vibes for him.

Maybe, though, this can be the Anfield star’s new happy place.
The 26-year-old certainly has a chance of securing a place in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for Euro 2024.

Gomez will hope to add to his 11 caps at home to Brazil on Saturday.

The injury to his left patella tendon in 2020 was the FOURTH serious setback of his career, following an anterior cruciate knee ligament KO, a damaged Achilles tendon and a broken leg.

And Gomez said: “The last time I saw Gareth here, I was on the bed waiting for the ambulance.

“It was tough and it is a big part of my journey that I wouldn’t shy away from.

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“We were doing an 11 v 11 match when I got the injury. It was quite unique — it was a patella tendon rupture.

“I was by myself. I just went to play a pass. I planted my foot and then . . . it ruptured.

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“It was quite gruesome. My knee cap was halfway up my leg.

“A lot of it is a blur because it was a bit painful. From that point it was a massive part of my life, probably the hardest point in my career, because of how it happened.

“I’ve moved past it and a big part of my application and my motivation comes from working to get back.

“I don’t want to lose that because it has shaped me into who I am. It’s definitely changed my application in terms of everything — recovery, gym work and so on. I’m at peace with what happened.

The last time I saw Gareth here, I was on the bed waiting for the ambulance.

Joe Gomez

“I would be lying if I said it did not have a psychological toll as I left here in an ambulance quite abruptly from the training pitch.”

Asked about the emotions swirling inside his head when he stepped back on that same training pitch on Tuesday, he said: “Obviously, from the outside looking in, nobody would have realised but it was a bit surreal.

“I think, naturally, there was a bit of an underlying trauma I can now draw a line under.

“So even just doing the warm-up back on that pitch, it was nice to sort of feel like I could close that chapter.

Joe Gomez: Boos so testing

JOE GOMEZ says he is looking forward to returning to Wembley with England despite being booed during his last appearance in front of Three Lions fans.

The Liverpool defender was left shocked and upset after being jeered coming on as a sub against Montenegro on November 14, 2019.

Three days earlier, he had suffered an eye cut after a clash with Raheem Sterling in the England hotel — and this came 24 hours after the pair had a bust-up in a game between Liverpool and Manchester City.

Asked about the booing, Gomez said: “It was testing. You never want that to happen in front of your own crowd. It was a scenario that I’ve moved on from.

“I didn’t delve too deep into it or let it consume me too much. I understood. It wasn’t great, obviously. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But it is what it is. Part of football.

“I am looking forward to getting back in front of the fans and playing. Wembley is such a special stadium.”

Sterling had clashed with Gomez at Anfield in the Reds’ 3-1 win over his old club City.

Tempers flared again the following day when the pair joined up on international duty although Gomez attempted to shake 5ft 6in Sterling’s hand from behind.

Winger Sterling then asked the 6ft 2in defender if he was “still the big man” and the pair grappled with each other.

Gomez got three more caps but they were all played behind closed doors due to Covid.

Despite his impressive club form this campaign the centre-half did not expect to be in the squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium and was due to go on holiday to Dubai.

Gomez will be hoping to make his 12th cap for the Three Lions

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Gomez will be hoping to make his 12th cap for the Three LionsCredit: Getty

“Everyone gets injured, that is part of the game but with it being so sudden the way it happened and never getting a chance to come back, it was tough to deal with.

“It has meant a lot to be in the mix, to be with the boys and close that chapter.

“So yes, it has played a big part in my mind and given me an appreciation of being here and a different perspective because I know the flip side and how tough that can be. It is a privilege to be here.”

This season, Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp has played Gomez in every position across the back four — and even as a defensive midfielder.

With England struggling in terms of strength in depth with their centre-backs, his inclusion is not only deserved but also makes sense.

Gomez added: “I am really enjoying my football at Liverpool. We had a good phase at the club when we won the Premier League and so on but this year has been different, for me, as I have been playing and in different places.

“I appreciate the moment and I am not worrying about where I have been or what I have to do. Just being here now is the main thing.”

Gomez has been on fine form for Liverpool this season

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Gomez has been on fine form for Liverpool this seasonCredit: Getty
He and the rest of the England squad are preparing for tough friendlies against Brazil and Belgium

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He and the rest of the England squad are preparing for tough friendlies against Brazil and BelgiumCredit: Getty

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