Michael Keane has revealed the extent of the foot injury that only temporarily sidelined him last season but which would have lasting effects on his first season at Everton and his England prospects.
Speaking in The Sunday Times ahead of last weekend's clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford, the defender describes a nasty gash he sustained playing in a Carabao Cup tie against Sunderland in September last year, one that resulted in an infection so severe, there was a possibility he could have lost his foot had it not been treated in time.
“I played on,” Keane recalls following a hard tackle by James Vaughan in that game (one for which the former Blue apologised afterwards, “but I knew that something wasn't right and I had a hole straight through the top of my boot from his studs.
“I went in at half-time and my foot was aching but I didn't do anything about it and played the second half. When I took my boot off again there was blood everywhere. I found the skin an inch apart, split away, and a nasty gash.”
He was given stitches in the wound but woke up the following morning, “in absolute agony. I couldn't put any weight on it. I took 10 minutes to get to the end of my bed.”
Rather than kept out of action for recommended three weeks, Keane was pressed back into action against his former club, Burnley and played for England — on both occasions he wore padding on the foot and boots two sizes too big — before turning out again in what would be Ronald Koeman's last match in charge, the 5-2 defeat to Arsenal at Goodison Park.
His foot ballooned in the aftermath of that game and the infection started to spread so he was quickly hospitalised and given antibiotics. But he was on the pitch again within a week on painkillers which, he admits, began to severely affected his ability to concentrate.
He describes how he felt in the away defeat to Southampton, which, coming in the wake of a home thrashing at the hands of Atalanta in the Europa League, instilled the panic in the club hierarchy that led to the final approach to Sam Allardyce to take the reins from David Unsworth.
“I think that the pills I was taking were making me very drowsy,” he says. “I felt that I couldn't concentrate. It was weird for me. I've always been one who's really focused and to be in a game and find concentration hard. I was trying to follow Charlie Austin and couldn't. I was seeing things and not reacting.”
Keane's form during that period — he would open the wound up again on New Year's Day this year when Anthony Martial landed on his foot with his studs — was alarming to many Evertonians and it also cost him a place at the World Cup in Russia after he dropped out of the England reckoning.
It hasn't been until the last few weeks when, finally settled, fully fit and able to play his normal game, that he has been able to start showing why the Blues paid what will likely be £30m for his services the summer before last.
“I developed a thick skin,” the 25-year-old said of the criticism aimed at him for a spell of form that clearly had mitigating circumstances. “Naturally, when things aren't going well, you get stick from fans and there were times I didn't want to go out in public.
“You come through that and never want that again. And you want to prove people wrong. You get an inner determination.”
Reader Comments (45)
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1 Posted 29/10/2018 at 22:00:32
2 Posted 29/10/2018 at 22:12:43
3 Posted 29/10/2018 at 22:17:58
A gash from a stud, requiring 8 stitches in the top of your foot, so risk of infection is high. But so much must be down to the player saying he's okay. Incredible that it could have led to amputation! Never take anything for granted! Guess I'm too much of a wimp, which is why I never amounted to much as a footballer.
Full interview is at The Sunday Times website, but requires a subscription.
4 Posted 30/10/2018 at 00:27:42
For me, his performances all season under Silva have been top-top drawer.
I fancy Mina will replace Zouma against Brighton ahead of the away game against Chelsea as the Frenchman cannot play against his contracted club.
Keane and Mina could then take some shifting from the centre back positions.
5 Posted 30/10/2018 at 00:42:29
No question the lad has a huge pair on him to keep going through that, and I admire his old-fashioned toughness, but I find myself wondering what in the hell our trainers were thinking. Why was he even allowed on the pitch in that situation? Why was he not fully examined by the club physicians and set down until it healed, rather than run back out on the pitch with a mis-sized shoe and a bloodstream full of opioids? This is the stuff of legend, all right, but it's not supposed to happen in this day and age.
I'm glad he didn't destroy his own career and health with his bravery. And I think the club has something to answer for.
6 Posted 30/10/2018 at 01:51:42
7 Posted 30/10/2018 at 03:37:18
This has explained a lot and I'm glad he came out with it.
It will make a lot of us reconsider our opinion of him.
8 Posted 30/10/2018 at 07:34:10
I remember talking to someone who had told me that one Everton player had been vomiting all afternoon before we played Atalanta at Goodison, but instead of being told to stay away, he was told he had to play. In an absolute dead-rubber as well.
9 Posted 30/10/2018 at 11:16:02
I agree with your and others' incredulity at the medical staff letting him go out there with such an injury. I thought that sort of thing left us when Roberto did.
10 Posted 30/10/2018 at 11:41:42
11 Posted 30/10/2018 at 11:55:31
It strikes me that it means one of three things:
- The leadership at the club were a shower if shite who put a young man's career at risk.
- Keane kept it to himself because the culture at the club was so poor that he felt he couldn't communicate his injury
- Keane's a nutjob!
What does all of this say about Rhino? It was him in the job then wasn't it?
12 Posted 30/10/2018 at 12:54:01
But I truly believe that scenario is unlikely. Players are monitored and analyzed on a sophisticated basis today. The manager, be it Rhino or Koeman (I'm uncertain on the timing here) would have noticed his dropoff in performance. The training staff would have noticed his limp. And since the players don't shower or dress in a private closet, Keane's teammates would have noticed that his foot looked like it belonged to another species.
I think Tony's scenario is far more likely, that he felt pressured to play because we were performing so poorly, and he embraced that pressure because he's a fucking warrior – as he has shown since the skull fracture.
Either way, he is certainly owed apologies from us and the press, and the club needs to step up and address this. Now.
Finally, it makes me wonder what other players may have found themselves in the same situation over the years. Players we derided because we didn't know what was really going on.
This makes me a little sick.
13 Posted 30/10/2018 at 13:16:07
Makes me wince now to remember it.
14 Posted 30/10/2018 at 13:32:24
15 Posted 30/10/2018 at 13:37:52
I believe it. I recall last season Allardyce in a presser insinuating that McCarthy was having mental issues and missing games because of perceived injury versus actual injuries that would prevent him playing. The timing was terrible because it was a couple of weeks before his horror injury.
But the point being that there is pressure on people to "tough it out", "man up" etc. Yes, I am sure there are some cry babies out there (maybe Daniel Sturridge) but I also think there are a lot of reckless managers.
16 Posted 30/10/2018 at 20:01:58
17 Posted 30/10/2018 at 22:32:20
As awful as the story is, let's not swing all the way to the other side and praise him and his private bits. He was utter shite last year; slow to react, clumsy, weak and constantly caught out – smacks as much of his poor judgement as a banjaxed foot.
I'm one of those who has been impressed with him so far under Silva and I'm enjoying seeing the difference but I can't exactly forget how bad he was last season; as if he and Williams were going head-to-head in the oaf-stakes.
18 Posted 30/10/2018 at 23:19:53
Someone, not me, but someone else would read the article, then read your comments, and conclude you have a problem with reading comprehension for typing:
"As awful as the story is, let's not swing all the way to the other side and praise him and his private bits. He was utter shite last year; slow to react, clumsy, weak and constantly caught out - smacks as much of his poor judgement as a banjaxed foot."
Now me, I appreciate you pretending to be so openly stupid as to type such drivel. Hopefully, it will inspire more ToffeeWebbers to come in with a enlightened take on Keane's difficulties last season.
19 Posted 30/10/2018 at 23:54:48
I'd rather have a player who would try to play through the pain barrier than one who yearns to be in the treatment room to avoid training / playing in the tough times. However, I don't recommend that any player should risk themselves physically and it is up to the medical staff to protect their patients and not to succumb to the manager or others within the club, no matter how much pressure they may put on them to do so.
If Keane had have lost his foot, who would have been responsible? Would the Insurance have covered him and or the club? No wonder last season looked like a circus and we can only hope that the players are treated properly and aren't asked to play when they are obviously injured.
20 Posted 30/10/2018 at 23:57:53
The autobiographies of Tim Cahill and Leon Osman contained many situations where these players had pain-killing injections to play. The Irish management team get a lot of stick, rightly so, for playing players who are not fully fit. Well, it looks as if Everton management have been worse.
Hopefully, Marco Silva takes a longer-term view of player welfare. Michael Keane is one brave player. I was amazed at how quickly he came back from his skull fracture, throwing himself into aerial duels, with no thought of injury.
Peter Gorman, do you think you would pass muster with the ToffeeWeb brigade, playing in a size 12 on one foot and a size 10 on the other, playing with a swollen foot, a boot full of blood, playing in pain etc? I know I wouldn't. He should have been rested until fit.
21 Posted 30/10/2018 at 00:06:37
I personally used the phrase, "turns like a barge" more than once. Had no clue about the foot. Explains the difference in speed and form this year.
I constantly bleat on about this "football" sport, and how I feel the diving, acting, and general "poo-swah" drives me apeshit. I've made more than one reference to the sport of my talent and youth of hockey in comparison.
Keane was playing on a fucked up, club foot. Never said boo about it. He also dove into a header that I'd have backed out of 1000 times out of 1000 and cracked his skull.
Keano has gained hockey-locker room-respect.
And someone at the Club should be quartered and hung for allowing him to play last season. Absolutely criminal.
22 Posted 31/10/2018 at 00:15:05
I'm swinging all the way to the other side and praising him and his private bits.
It takes some awfully, awfully large private bits to play through something like that.
23 Posted 31/10/2018 at 01:12:39
James – I don't get the tone of your post, must be my lack of reading comprehension. At a guess, you've swallowed the story as deep as your throat allows and have somehow managed to airbrush last season from memory (good for you).
Feel free to enlighten me, James, but I think the article mentioned the foot injury occurring during the cup game against Sunderland, so that would be some time after we were linked to his signing from Burnley, when the unflattering comments about his turning-circle first surfaced.
Also, assuming he is not still doped up to the eyeballs, is it 'openly stupid' to point out the lapses of concentration that cost us goals, such as away to Wolves, that spoil an otherwise improved level of performance?
On second thoughts, I've no idea why I'm asking you – just cheer and boo as you see fit.
24 Posted 31/10/2018 at 03:50:38
25 Posted 01/11/2018 at 10:32:55
It simply highlights poor judgement, poor management, and poor character by playing on when clearly impacted by an injury and now using that as an excuse.
I'm sure many teams will try and target him to test how well healed his foot actually is. He's still not the most mobile of defenders but he's still learning and adjusting to another manager's tactics and does appear to be improving. He needs to be stronger in aerial duals and learn to pass forward quicker but, like most things Everton this season, lots of improvement all around.
26 Posted 01/11/2018 at 11:02:06
But, like many joining a new club he had to adapt to a new manager, team mates and style of play (and it can't have helped having Williams besides him).
To then get this injury and play on through it is both alarming (re our medical staff) and enlightening - towards Keane's will to succeed.
He has been playing very well (especially considering his head injury) and must be re-assessed by the many who wrote him off when not being aware of the facts.
Good luck to him - he may not be the mouthy leader some want - but with determination like this he surely can lead by his example.
27 Posted 01/11/2018 at 11:11:53
28 Posted 01/11/2018 at 11:37:14
29 Posted 01/11/2018 at 11:47:08
And P.S. look who was the opposition manager
30 Posted 01/11/2018 at 11:48:51
He had joined Everton, to better himself, and found himself in a situation where it was every man for themselves, and he definitely looked to be sinking.
Its a question of personalities really, some tell the manager to go and get fucked, whilst some feel that they have got to go and have ago, even though they know they are only damaging themselves, and therefore the team.
Catch-22, but thats exactly were Everton found themselves last season, simply because Koeman, didnt appear to care, and Steve Walsh, was totally out of his depth, and once the panic sets in, then people can make really stupid decisions, which is obviously what happened here?
31 Posted 01/11/2018 at 11:58:55
Different scenarios, but I dont care who you are, nobody should be playing football when they have got a big hole in their foot.
Weve all heard the shouts, “get on with it - thats what we used to do in our day” but the reality is, nobody can perform with such an injury, and only a man under pressure would expect him to even try?
32 Posted 01/11/2018 at 12:23:25
Sometimes young tough men need saving from themselves!
33 Posted 01/11/2018 at 12:32:34
Unlucky kid, James Vaughan. His problem was he was too brave. Seen the ball and would go through a brick wall to get it.
I met his dad on one of the away games in the Europa League. He was telling us James loved Everton, and it was a genuine remark.
Great post and all of it very true.
34 Posted 01/11/2018 at 13:08:57
Extract from The Minute Books dated 27th October 1959 courtesy of The Everton Collection:
'It was reported that an X-ray had shown that B. Labone had broken a bone in his foot, but should be fit to play in two weeks time.'
This and subsequent minutes track our pursuit of a certain D. Law from Huddersfield Town which would eventually be blocked by a certain B. Shankley because our increasing offers weren't high enough!
I highly commend The Everton Collection website to all.
35 Posted 01/11/2018 at 17:11:58
Seems like the lad had no protection from Management and staff who insisted that he turn out despite all evidence pointing towards keeping him out and protecting him.
How can he possibly play in boots two sizes larger than his feet and expect to turn in any decent performance.
Strong character, proving his worth now and good on him.
36 Posted 01/11/2018 at 17:40:52
Unfortunately, stories like this have been pretty regular over the years concerning some of our players and medical staff. The Michael Ball account of the shocking issues he had with his knees and the amount of painkilling injections he had springs to mind. It goes to show the lengths clubs and players themselves go to, to ensure they keep playing.
37 Posted 01/11/2018 at 18:22:32
We seen him playing shite... and so naturally, after paying good money to watch him play shite, we voiced our opinions. How were any of us to know he was playing with this injury? He's picked up this season but I for one ain't still fully convinced.
If anyone owes him an apology, it's the cretins on the medical staff who allowed him to play on with this nasty injury. I mean, it's the not the '60s or '70s, when these type of things were the norm, but the game has moved on, what with the technology the clubs have now... Isn't that why they employ these specialists???
38 Posted 01/11/2018 at 21:53:34
39 Posted 01/11/2018 at 22:19:37
A Keane/Mina partnership would never work. Too similar and neither has any pace. Zouma is fast becoming our key cb.
40 Posted 02/11/2018 at 09:40:49
Meanwhile, I believe that Keane will be our CB for many seasons to come - good lad!
41 Posted 02/11/2018 at 16:23:44
42 Posted 02/11/2018 at 20:31:35
43 Posted 02/11/2018 at 21:13:05
I saw that. I am hoping the worthless sack of crap is just talking to make himself look like a tough guy to his legions (?) of fans (?).
44 Posted 03/11/2018 at 06:23:23
Will this news temper some of the criticism of Coleman recently and I now wonder what sort of state Seamus is really in, physically? Maybe there is no way he should be near the pitch right now? They strike me as similar personalities.
46 Posted 05/11/2018 at 11:39:11
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