Roma (@OfficialASRoma) November 9, 2014
It’s a nightmare scenario for any player, even more so a young one carving out a reputation as a burgeoning star – a devastating knee injury.
That is the exact fate that befell Kevin Strootman when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in March facing Napoli at the San Paolo.
The Dutchman had spent the prior part of the season cementing his status as one of Europe’s brightest young stars, an integral part of coach Rudi Garcia’s Roma revolution.
But with five goals and six assists in the bank, he was thrust into the harsh world of long-term rehabilitation – his World Cup dream falling by the wayside as well.
In Brazil he would have plied his trade under Louis van Gaal of course, who lamented the loss of Strootman at the time and since has moved on to Manchester United.
The 63-year-old remains linked with an eventual move to bring his highly-rated countryman to Old Trafford, with Strootman’s injury putting any such plans on hold for the time being.
After eight months of work the midfielder at last returned to the pitch for the Giallorossi – getting a handful of minutes at the end of Roma’s 3-0 win over Torino.
Strootman told Roma TV of his comeback appearance: “First of all, thank you. It was difficult after the injury. I worked for eight months now.
“I spoke to the coach before the game, and after it went to 3-0 he put me on. Our team is stronger than last year; I can see that in training. We have to win it all, that’s important for us.
“I worked for eight months to get back onto the field and salute our fans. I received messages of support every day, on social media, but at Trigoria too. It was an emotional evening.”
Strootman received a standing ovation from the Stadio Olimpico after coming on, a testament to how adored he is by the Giallorossi faithful.
At present he remains focused on making a return to full fitness and recovering the form that made him the envy of other clubs around Europe last season.
He’ll be an essential piece if Roma are to finally break Juventus’ stranglehold on Serie A this season – with winning the title an admitted goal of his.
Van Gaal will be happy to see Strootman back in action and is likely tracking his progess – even if both the midfielder and Roma foreseeably don’t have a sale in mind at the moment.
The day Strootman moves to Old Trafford may indeed come in the future – for now, getting back to his best with the Giallorossi seemingly is priority number one.