Danny Cadamarteri on his retirement from the game
Striker Danny Cadamarteri confirmed this week that he has retired from the professional game, on advice from his surgeon, following a knee injury picked up at the back end of the last campaign.
We spoke to him about the decision and about what comes next now that his playing career is over.
“It's really disappointing,” he admitted. “It's been such a frustrating time – this has gone on for slightly longer than 12 months in total – and it’s a sad time as well.
“If I’m honest, I've spent a lot of time travelling to home and away games this season because I’ve been trying to cling on to that little bit of hope. Looking back to pre-season, I thought I’d be fine if I could just get a good period of rehab under my belt. As the season went on that opportunity drifted further and further away and it was tough to have to accept that.”
On how the situation developed, he said: “I had a knee and ankle operation at the end of last season with the plan being for me to be back as close to pre-season as possible.
“The ankle operation went really well and the knee operation also appeared to be fine. The signs were very good to start with. I started my rehabilitation, which also went well, but I had a little bit of a setback where part of the repair work in my knee broke and the cartilage came out again. That meant I needed another operation.
“I was told by the surgeon at that stage that playing again might be touch and go. However, there was still a good chance, if the rehab went well, so I made sure I took a little bit of extra care with everything I did. I got to a point where the cartilage in my knee was fine but the damage underneath was causing problems. If I was to go on and train every day, or if I was to get a knock, it could become so unstable that it could cripple me. At 34 years old, going on 35, and with two young kids I felt that it wasn’t worth the risk of me ending up in a wheelchair or having to undergo knee replacement operations.”
“I still couldn’t get my head round it, but the surgeon finalised it all when he told me after my most recent scan that I would have to stop playing if I wanted to live a normal lifestyle,” he continued. “A few months before I got the news there were times where I was thinking I'd be able to play again, because my knee felt good, but then I'd have another little setback where you could tell that something wasn't quite right.
“I went through so many different emotions, when it was finally decided I would have retire, that it was unbelievable. The surgeon started to tell me but he stopped half way through, stood up and gave me a hug. He apologised for being the one who had to deliver the news and that made my bottom lip go a little bit. I think that was probably when it really started to sink in. I realised this was the end of a 17 or 18 year career and it was difficult to even stand up and walk out of the building at that point.”
“Looking back at that start of that day, I decided I’d be fine seeing him on my own because I was hoping he was going to give me good news,” he revealed. “I wasn't feeling too bad, I had a little bit of stiffness in my knee, but I thought it would just be another little setback. To walk out of there knowing it was the end was really tough. I sat in the car park for about an hour and a half just ignoring everything and I had a load of missed calls from my wife. I eventually took a deep breath and called her, to give her the news, and I made sure I spoke to Dolly [Neil Dalton] because he has been with me all the way through this.”
“I think I used that time in the car to reflect on everything because you do start to question yourself as to whether you could have done anything differently,” he said. “I remember one of the last things I asked the surgeon was if there was anything at all I could do to reverse this. He obviously said no and that was like a hammer blow. My wife was absolutely great when I phoned her because she knows how hard I've worked to get myself fit again. Her attitude is very much that what will be, will be and I know I have plenty of people to support me through it.”
“Dolly has seen this before with other players and he had plenty of wise words of advice,” he added. “That was very comforting and reassuring. He had informed Kav and the next phone call was from him. It was a knee injury which stopped Kav’s career and I think he spoke to me for at least an hour about what he’d been through. That was another big help and I really appreciated it.”
“Like I say, this has just been a hugely frustrating period for me,” he commented. “I left Huddersfield off the back of a really good season and came here looking forward to being part of a team which was full of confidence.
“We were looking to build a good squad and push for the play offs and I wanted to be part of that. I had a decent run in the team, then I flitted in and out, which was frustrating, but I thought the back end of the season was going to be a turning point for me. I started to find some real form, especially when we played Doncaster, and I was enjoying my football.
“I was carrying the injury a little bit but I still felt good. The plan was to keep playing, get the injury sorted then come back after the summer firing on all cylinders. It just didn't pan out like that for me and it’s made even worse when I think that I’d be able to help the lads, if only I could play. I feel like I have a lot to offer on the pitch and in the dressing room. I've done my best to do that anyway but there’s a limit to the impact you can have when you aren’t actually involved in the games.
“I love football and I've loved every minute of being at Carlisle United. It's a long old journey up from Yorkshire but I've genuinely loved being here. It's a great environment and the club make the most of the facilities they've got. It's a real family club and it's nice to be around.
“I know we're at the wrong end of the table at this moment in time but the lads have got a great spirit and there's a fantastic atmosphere between all of the players and staff. I want to be there for the lads as much as I can, to help in any way I can, and I hope we all stick together, club and fans, to see our way through this difficult situation.”
We’ll have more from Danny Cadamarteri on Sunday when he looks back at a fantastic career and looks ahead to what he wants to do next.
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