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Ismael consigns year of misery to history

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Ismael consigns year of misery to history

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:50 pm


Valerien Ismaël could be excused for running the gamut of emotions as he spoke to journalists at the Allianz Arena following Bayern's victory over Leverkusen on Sunday, but the amiable defender can hardly have anticipated the outbreak of hiccups which punctuated his first post-match interview in 11 months. Perhaps a sense of overwhelming joy lay behind the annoying but hardly significant condition.

"I'm delighted it's finally happened," the 31-year-old declared after replacing Mark van Bommel in the 89th minute of Sunday's Bundesliga clash. "The coach was just running a few seconds off the clock," he acknowledged, "but it's still a tremendous feeling when 60,000 people shout your name."

<b>Annus horribilis</b>

Valerien's previous run-out in a senior shirt came almost exactly 11 months previously on 13 May 2006, but months of misery were destined to follow. The player went for scheduled surgery to remove a benign tumour from his left shin, only for medics to discover a hairline fracture. The damage was duly repaired and Ismaël reported for training in early August. Some seven days later, he was rushed to hospital in agony after breaking both his fibula and tibia in training.

"He's come through an unbelievable ordeal," commented Uli Hoeneß on Sunday, precisely eight months after the Frenchman suffered the double leg fracture. "I'm really delighted for him, because he's such a fantastically likeable guy." Ismael himself reflected on "a very, very long journey. I've worked hard and been extremely patient."

<b>Return as substitute</b>

"I'm back now, and I'm nearly 100 percent fit," he continued. The stopper has recently made a number of appearances for the reserves in the German third division south as a means of gaining match practice, and is now hopeful of further outings with the seniors, while acknowledging Ottmar Hitzfeld is unlikely to switch things around substantially at this stage of the season. "We're stuck in fourth and we're in a difficult situation. It's not important whether I play or not right now," he insisted.

The defender said he was not surprised that the head coach preferred to leave his normal back four unchanged. Instead, Valerien has turned his focus to next season. "I'm hoping for a good summer, and then I'll pursue my target of regaining a regular place in the team."

<b>Surgical pin provides security</b>

Hitzfeld was equally delighted at the return of the club's best tackler: Ismaël won 67 percent of his challenges last season. "His attitude is superb, and he always prepares carefully, even though he knows he has little chance of playing a right now," the coach observed. "But if anything happens, I can always call on him."

Hitzfeld knows he can rely on Ismael, and Ismael in turn can again rely on his injured leg. The healing process was complete, he explained, although the bones in his lower left leg remain supported by a 40 centimetre titanium pin. "It will stay in for the rest of my playing days. It's my security pin," the overjoyed player declared.
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