Wycombe Wanderers defender Darius Charles has been told that he must retire but he found another way. Adam Bate caught up with him at the club’s training ground to listen to his inspirational story…
“Frankly, I simply believed,” Darius Charles tells Sky Sports.
“There’s this great expression I have in my phone. The universe creates a way for people who know where they’re going. I determined I understood where I was going to move. I wanted to become a footballer back again. After I made that decision, everything around me began to alter.”
For a while, that choice appeared to be out of his hands. Charles hadn’t played a match for half a year and had arthritis in his hip. As recently as the spring, even the 31-year-old Wycombe Wanderers defender has been sat in a surgeon’s office confronted with a option. Quit football for good or face the prospect of a hip replacement before the age of 40.
“He had been very clear . ‘If have your initial one now, it’s possible to only have three and that means by the time you are 60 you’ll have had your hip replacement. You’re a young guy, you still have to live. You have to determine whether it is beneficial for your well-being. You get a nine-year-old son.’ He told me he would not work”
Now, daily, it is emotional for Charles to revisit. “It was a real shock to my network,” he says. “I had to pick between trying to find a surgeon who’d work on me personally and hazard the stylish replacement in the coming years or stop football and manage it the best that I can. There was not any alternative really. Stopping playing was the sole choice for me in the moment.
“It had been very tough for me not to begin crying right there and then in the workplace. I didn’t mention much. I came back out with all the physio and a sigh was only that there. I replayed the conversation in my mind and got on the rail. Can he say what I think he said? It was just like I had been having an out-of-body encounter and I had been watching it. I don’t believe I can process it.
“Being a footballer explained. After I left the practice ground, I did not stop being a footballer. That becomes who you are if you don’t repent it. Having that removed had me. I realised that I hadn’t ever done the character building when you’re attempting to find out who you are, that you go through in your formative years.
“I went from primary school to high school to football. I acted on schooling for my entire life. My biggest fear was the thought that when I am not Darius that the footballer who am I really? I don’t understand how to do anything else. I didn’t understand where to begin. I’m not utilized to change. I’ve had a few clubs but just 1 job. I had found the thing that I loved performing .”
There were tears when Charles went to supervisor Gareth Ainsworth’s office to examine his position to the end of last season. The dialogue had been delayed by him as long as he could. Wycombe were battling against relegation and Charles didn’t want to be a burden. He also apologised to Ainsworth.
Him overwhelmed. Ainsworth told him that he had led. “The gaffer is a unbelievable man,” says Charles. “Forget having an incredible gaffer, he’s an incredible man because he encouraged me emotionally. That’s precisely what I wanted. I had been crying.” And following the tears came a very daring prediction.
“I told himI think I could return.”
Ainsworth made it very clear that when Charles could secure fit the door would be open for him Wycombe.
It had been the ending. Nevertheless, it was the start.
Charles got in touch with Rob Gallaghera mobility specialist who had had the harm, and he started to do the exercises that he prescribed. “I began to feel much better.” He turned into a vegan and slimmed his body down considerably. “The burden was interrupting my progress,” he adds. “The less fat you take the simpler it is for the human body to keep that load”
What followed took inner drive and some time, work, mental strength. “It was difficult in the sense that it was very tedious. There is a good deal of low-level workout. The sort of things your grandparents would do and I have to do it . There are times when you’re struggling and you would like to give up. But it’s easy to do this.”
There were the podcasts that got him through the summertime and the books also. Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul discussions led him to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead. Emotions he is touch with now. “Every conversation that I have about it is like therapy,” laughs Charles.
Slowly but surely he agreed a bargain to return to Wycombe in August and started to feel he could handle the pain. The moment came. An accident crisis in front of a match at Fleetwood. Charles played and played. He kept his position for the triumph over Southend and the blank sheet off into his team Wimbledon. Three games in 12 days.
That is an enormous ask for any player but. His situation is being managed by him. He does not train with the team on a Monday and Tuesday’s rest – a scenario that brings with it the banter that is habitual. “I am not likely to coin the phrase’lower-league Ledley King’ but if people wish to give me afterward…”
“This is a disorder I have so I want to be micro-managed,” says Charles. “The gaffer enables me that time. I am just here at his disposal”
For how long, though?
He is only taken by his contract through to January. Some players would realize that unsettling but Charles does not think like that. Not any more.
“Listen, I’ve got arthritis in my hip,” he states. “It’s exactly what it is. For now, I am still a footballer but that I can only resist science a lot better. I have a human body with limits. I can not possibly let you know just how much time I am likely to playwith. I don’t think about doing it. I will have to deal with that, if I begin to think I wish it would last my entire body breaks down then.
“However, the greatest thing is acceptance. You become a good deal lighter As soon as you shed the expectations. It makes it much more easy for me to awaken in pain and grin. Should I wake up and don’t feel good I don’t feel great. This is an extraordinary story but I may not play the game . However, I put my heart and I did it. I am grateful for this. It’s a blessing.
“I’ve demonstrated my son that you are capable of beating anything in the event you genuinely believe and you can become whatever you want to if you are determined. I could not give him a larger lesson than that. My son is extremely intelligent but I have one GCSE. What else can I show him? It is a excellent life lesson and I’ve been able to demonstrate that through example.”