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Q: 2023/24 Hopes & aspirations for this season
a. As Champions of Europe there's no reason we shouldn't be pushing for a top 7 spot & a run in the Cups
b. Last season was a trophy winning one and there's only one way to go after that, I expect a dull mid table bore fest of a season
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e. New season you say, woohoo time to get the new kit and wear it it to the pub for all the big games, the wags down there call me Mr West Ham

Irish Hammer 10:30 Wed Apr 27
Decent read : Marty Jarrvis Interview
Enjoy all ⚒️
Matt Jarvis: ‘I couldn’t walk without being in pain. I’d go home from training and have a little cry to myself’

A family trip to The Ickworth Hotel in Suffolk was supposed to be an enjoyable occasion for Matt Jarvis, but unbeknown to those closest to him, he was struggling to comprehend the events that had transpired 24 hours earlier.

Sitting on his sofa at home on the outskirts of London, the former England winger is reflecting on how he had to grapple with the news all footballers fear.

“I was saw a specialist and told him my ankle wasn’t right,” Jarvis tells The Athletic. “He said I could either retire or cope with the pain. I remember I had to see one of the physios at Norwich and we had the same conversation. He said I should have a couple of days off with my wife and son. Process it all and have a little think.

“We booked somewhere local and I wanted to have a good time. I wanted to enjoy being with them so it could help take my mind off everything. But I was non-existent, I couldn’t see any improvement. On one hand I kept thinking, ‘I can’t let this happen. I’m not getting told when I have to retire’. But on the other hand, I was worried about how my way of life would be.

“I couldn’t even walk, or play with my son in the garden. I didn’t want that to be my life. It was a difficult couple of days because it was supposed to be a nice trip but I couldn’t enjoy it. I just kept thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’. In the end, I just kept saying to myself, ‘I’m not retiring. It has to be on my terms’. I went back on Monday and said to the physio, ‘I’m going to be fit again’. It was a hard process and eventually I managed to get back to being pain free, which was the best feeling ever.”

Jarvis has always had a fighting spirit. He was released aged 16 by Millwall and it fuelled his determination. The winger was given an opportunity at Gillingham and made 110 league appearances during his four-year spell. But the 35-year-old isn’t here to discuss the highs of making his England debut against Ghana in 2011, or the role he played in helping Wolves seal promotion to the Premier League in 2009.

He is keen to discuss the mental health struggles he endured during the latter parts of his playing career. During the course of an hour, Jarvis speaks openly about how injuries impacted his professional and personal life. His wife Sarah, who he married in 2011, and their kids Leo, five, and Ella, two, have been at his side during his lowest moments.

But there was a time in Jarvis’ life where he became withdrawn. He was reluctant to engage with supporters and loved ones.

It was on Halloween 2015 when the winger dealt with the first of many hurdles.

Norwich City were set to face Manchester City and Jarvis was eager to impress. During the game he went in for a 50/50 challenge with Yaya Toure and came out worse.

“When I joined Norwich I’d only played 11 games the season before at West Ham,” says Jarvis. “I hated it because as a player all you want to do is play. I would train all week, be on the bench at the weekend and maybe I’ll come on every now and then. I didn’t want to go through another season of doing that. Slaven Bilic didn’t want me to leave and he was great with me. But I just wanted to play.

“I had a great debut and it gave me such a lift. I almost felt as if I had a point to prove. I scored in my second game against West Brom and everything just clicked. Then we played Manchester City and I decided to do my first proper tackle against Toure and it didn’t go well for me. Straightaway I knew I’d done my knee. I just knew it wasn’t right. But because I was new at Norwich I wanted to carry on. The physio came on and I kept telling him, ‘I’m fine, I can play’. I went back, we were on the attack and I sprinted into the box. As soon as I tried to turn my knee was gone.”

Jarvis playing for Norwich against Manchester City on October 31, 2015 (Photo: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Jarvis was sidelined for two and a half months with a grade two medial collateral ligament injury. He returned to action in the 3-1 loss to Stoke City and made a further 13 league appearances in the 2015-16 season. Norwich were relegated to the Championship, but playing in the second tier was not Jarvis’ immediate thought. It was trying to solve why he was feeling discomfort.

“I did the rehab but my knee wasn’t right,” he says. “I couldn’t kick the ball properly with my right foot. People kept saying that’s what happens with MCL injuries. I lost count the amount of times I kept kicking the ball against a wall. I had to have injections in my knee. For pre-season I did nothing but straight line sprints because they didn’t want me to twist and turn. But as soon as I started doing it my knee went funny again. I went for a scan and they said there was a bit of fluid but I knew it was more serious than that.

“I had an operation and when I woke up they said my medial wasn’t attached properly. I did my rehab again but this time I felt great and had no issues with my knee. It was just my luck that in my first training session back I injured my ankle. I was like, ‘No, this can’t be happening now’.”

Norwich signed Alex Pritchard, Nelson Oliveira and Sergi Canos in the summer of 2016. It did not help that Pritchard and Canos played in similar positions to Jarvis. But life off the field proved far more challenging than life on it.

“I had a scan and there was inflammation in my ankle,” says Jarvis. “This was my second year at Norwich and I had to get a jab in my ankle. I was barely getting through training, it was ridiculous. All through the summer I was getting more injections. Then I said, ‘Enough is enough, I can’t do it anymore, I’m so sore I can’t even walk’.

“My son was born after I had my knee surgery. I missed out on a lot of him growing up due to my ankle injury. That was really rough but I needed to work on my fitness to get back playing. I wasn’t present because I saw so much of him on video or pictures. He was eight months at the time and I was missing out on loads of things. It eats at me sometimes because I feel like I missed out on being there. I was living away from him six days a week. Mentally, that was the most difficult time for me.”

The painstaking nature of rehab can be arduous for most footballers. Jarvis had team-mates Louis Thompson and Carlton Morris for company, both of whom were sidelined with long-term injuries. But the daily routine of gym work and the constant reminder of his injury meant Jarvis became withdrawn.

“I had surgery and I thought I was going to be out for three to four weeks but they woke me up and said I had to have a microfracture of my ankle,” he says. “It took me about nine and a half months before I recovered.

“I was going to home games and hated it because I couldn’t play. I couldn’t help the team. I was watching matches and thinking, ‘I could have been there, I could have done that’. So it was really difficult. People kept asking how my recovery was going and it was demoralising constantly being asked. The games were always difficult for me. I was there to support the team but in the nicest possible way I didn’t want to go. I wished them well, would go into the changing room but I wouldn’t want to be there. It was a tough time for me.”

The pain of his ankle and gradual withdrawal meant Jarvis was concealing his emotions. But the months of built up frustration proved to be a blessing in disguise when his wife saw him at one of his lowest moments.

“I couldn’t walk without being in pain,” he says. “It got to the point where I’d come home from training and have a little cry to myself. My wife would come in the room with my son and I’d tell her, ‘I just don’t want to be in pain anymore’. It was really difficult to express that but I’m very lucky that I have a great wife and family. Sarah and her mum have been brilliant with me.

“My wife had only ever seen me cry at a funeral, so she’s never really seen me upset. It was a release that I needed. There’s only so long you can hold it in for. It drummed home to her how I was feeling. She’d ask me everyday how I was and I wouldn’t really open up. I didn’t want her or anyone else to worry.

“Let’s say I had a dinner booked in town with my wife and some friends. I’d cancel it and I look back now and think, ‘Why did it do that? They did nothing wrong’. During my time at Norwich I hardly went out. The lads and staff were great with me but I didn’t want to be seen going out. That’s one side of football that a lot of people don’t see. I was getting messages from people asking why I was still injured. I’d respond and say, ‘I’d love you to come here and see what I’m doing to get fit, then you might rethink what you’ve just said’.”

After a gruelling rehab, Jarvis was nearing full fitness but suffered another setback. It was a frustrating period but the winger knew eventually there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

“I picked up Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which is where you get a stabbing pain on the outside of your knee. My running had changed and so I had to have another surgery. Then I kept picking up little injuries which ruled me out for seven to 10 days. I’d been out for two and a half years, so another week was massive.

Jarvis during his time at West Ham (Photo: AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)
“I had a good conversation with the manager Daniel Farke. It was the day before Christmas Eve. Norwich were flying and I said, ‘What’s the situation? I’d love to play under you — I love the way you play’. He said, ‘I couldn’t agree more and I think you’d be perfect for this system. But the team is doing well and I can’t drop anyone to put you in. As a manager I want you to stay but as a person you need to play and get back to enjoying football’.

“I loved the open conversation we had. Walsall contacted the club, then Stuart Webber (the club’s sporting director) called me and I decided to sign for them on loan. I was happy because I knew I was going to play football again.”

After being sidelined for 30 months, Jarvis made his debut for the club against Bolton on January 5, 2019. It had been 965 days since he last played a competitive game.

“Against Bolton I had my first assist after ten minutes. But it was the walk out onto the pitch before the game that felt special. I had no pain and I felt free. There was massive relief and I was happy.”

The winger made 10 appearances for Walsall before being released by Norwich at the end of 2018-19.

These days Jarvis is in a much better headspace. The family trip to The Ickworth Hotel may have not been the fun occasion it was supposed to be, but Jarvis, his wife and kids made up for lost time by recently having a much-needed break in Barbados.

Jarvis overcame his mental health struggles to achieve his long-term goal of continuing to play. His last club was Woking in the National League.

It is a reminder to many of the importance of talking. He retired in May 2021 after an 18-year playing career, and it was all the more satisfying he got to do it on his terms.

“When I look back at what I experienced, I think it’s unfair to label players injury prone,” he says. “My injuries were all unfortunate. They were the hardest three years of my life. I got offered a pay out at Norwich and I didn’t accept it. I wanted to get back fit and play football. I gave it everything in my career. I was able to get back, play football and enjoy what I wanted to do. When I retired it wasn’t down to injury, it was on my terms and I’m really proud of that.”

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Manuel 10:20 Sun May 1
Re: Decent read : Marty Jarrvis Interview
Pound for pound one of the worst signings we've ever made, a fucking useless faggot. A decent read?? Yea right. I'll take your word for it.

Mex Martillo 9:43 Sun May 1
Re: Decent read : Marty Jarrvis Interview
Makes me wonder what Dyer was thinking during his time at West Ham. Hate to say I was not very forgiving on the that situation, but probably Dyer also just wanted to be fit and play.
Thanks Irish

martyboy 12:14 Wed Apr 27
Re: Decent read : Marty Jarrvis Interview
I know his brother pretty well, and Matty is a good lad. Just had a bad run of injuries, most of his career.

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