Josh Simpson was back in Victoria rehabilitating what may be the most devastating injury to a high-level Island athlete since the one that befell Olympic rower Silken Laumann in 1992.
The compound leg break of Simpson’s left fibula and tibia occurred at Basel on May 23, 2012, in the final game of the Swiss Axpo Super League season. The Island soccer pro won’t be back with FC Young Boys of Bern, or the Canadian national team, until at least next July.
That will be more than two years on the sidelines.
The break was so horrific it was described by the FC Young Boys website as a “terrible moment for the audience [in Basel to witness].”
It wasn’t so good for Canadian soccer, either. Who knows how much further Canada could have gone in 2014 World Cup qualifying if the veteran 43-time capped graduate of the Juan de Fuca minor soccer association and Lower Island Metro hadn’t been injured and taken abruptly out of the equation.
The 30-year-old midfielder has had plenty of time to think about all these things. After the initial surgery, doctors had to operate again a year later to install a sturdier plate.
“It’s been a challenge. It’s been a long ride, but it’s coming along slowly but surely. I just try to keep taking one step ahead of the last one,” said Simpson, who was back in his hometown to receive treatment from chiropractor Michael Murray — who has treated a wide array of Canadian national team athletes — and athletic therapist Matt Lumsdaine.
“My dream was Brazil [2014 World Cup]. But you can’t control everything. I have a wife and two young daughters and that has helped me incredibly. It puts everything in perspective.”
Simpson’s contract with Young Boys runs through 2015, which the Swiss club is honouring.
“They have been excellent with me,” he said.
The Islander intends to honour his portion of the deal by being back on the pitch in Bern this coming summer.
“It’s been a heck of a journey,” said Simpson.
It is one he intends to pursue again on the international stage for Canada — which, during his absence, has plunged to 114th in the world — once World Cup qualifying begins for Russia 2018.
“I’ll absolutely be ready for 2018 qualifying,” vowed Simpson.
This isn’t the first time he has had to fight back from a career-threatening injury. The Belmont graduate broke his foot in three places in 2008 in the Bundesliga while playing for Kaiserslautern.
Now once again he is proving to be made of stern stuff.