Riggott returns to action

04 November 2009 10:40
AFTER spending nine months wondering whether he would ever play again and contemplating a life outside football, Chris Riggott made his long-awaited return to action in a Middlesbrough shirt yesterday.

After playing 70 minutes of a training ground match with Newcastle he admitted to being a little stiff but expressed relief he can now seriously contemplate challenging for a first team place.

The 29-year-old has endured a horrific three years, culminating in two operations to repair ankle ligament damage in May and September.

And after thinking his career could be over, Riggott is optimistic the worst is now behind him.

I have hated it. You fall out of love with football because you are so fed up, said Riggott, whose experience has left him determined to embark on an Open University Degree course.

Its been a nightmare. I have definitely thought about quitting. It got to the point where I was totally fed up. I dont want to quit, and I never wanted to, but it was that hard to deal with.

When you have had an operation it really is full on depression.

Its been awful.

Blokes are supposed to think about sex every seven seconds, instead I have been thinking about injuries every seven seconds. I break the norm.

During the extended lay-off, Riggott has had plenty of time to reflect on operations on May 20 this year and another on September 7, while he has not played since limping out of the defeat at Manchester City in February.

His troubles started when he expected to partner Jonathan Woodgate at Arsenal in September 2006, when the latter was due to make his debut following his initial loan move from Real Madrid.

But Riggott tore his ligaments on the eve of the game which proved to be just the start of his torment.

Since his appearance in the UEFA Cup final in Eindhoven, Riggott has made just 47 appearances in three-and-a-bit seasons, including a tenmatch loan stint at Stoke City.

This is a pretty big season for me and thats what has made it worse because I know how big it is, said Riggott, whose contract expires in June. Its out of my hands to an extent. I cant do that much about it, Im doing everything I can to try to get fit.

Hopefully I have now turned the corner. The chairman is probably tearing his hair out seeing the wages going out, thats understandable.

What I would say is that Im trying, Im really trying.

I see Keith Lamb (chief executive) every day and he asks me if Im fit yet. I keep saying Im trying. Its that horrible feeling of letting people down.

Im not trying to think about the contract situation, that would drive me insane.

Riggotts return to full training with the first team squad coincided with new manager Gordon Strachans first few days in the job last week, so he hopes that could be a sign that things are taking a turn for the better.

In my mind I felt like I was letting the manager down,

said Riggott, who has had a brief chat with Strachan to discuss his progress. I couldnt play, I felt guilty and its not nice when you are being paid. You do have the guilt factor.

The new manager has come in, its a fresh change for everyone, but I just want to get my ankle right. Im not saying I wouldnt have trained if Gareth was here because I would, but I was desperate to train with the new manager.

As well as Riggott, Andrew Taylor made his comeback after ankle ligament damage against Newcastle reserves yesterday. The game finished 1-1 at Rockliffe Park, with Kazenga Lua-Lua cancelling out Nathan Porritts first half curler.

Middlesbrough: Coyne; McMahon, Riggott (Corker 70), Grounds, Bennett; Porritt, Smallwood, Walker, Taylor; Franks, Martin.

Newcastle: Alnwick; Morris (Leadbitter 72), Grieve (Taylor 72), Tozer, Ferguson (Folan 72), Adjei, Donaldson, McLaughlin (McDermott 72), Danquah, Ngo-Baheng (Inman 27), Lua-Lua.

Sean St Ledger is in the Republic of Ireland squad for the World Cup play-off games against France, on November 14 at Croke Park in Dublin and on November 18 at the Stade de France in Paris.

Both Rhys Williams and Brad Jones are in the Australia squad for a 2011 Asian Cup qualifier away to Oman in Muscat on November 14.

Source: Northern_Echo