Daniëlle van de Donk (1991) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a midfielder. Daniëlle tore her ACL in 2008 whilst playing for Willem II. After that she played for VVV, PSV, Göteborg FC and as of 2015 Daniëlle plays for Arsenal.
In 2010 Daniëlle made her debut for the Dutch national team and she played in the World Cup in Canada, where the Dutch women were able to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in history. She has over 100 caps with the national team and helped win the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 and finish second at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. How successful can you be after an ACL injury…
SO WHEN I WAS TOLD THIS COULD VERY WELL BE AN ACL INJURY IT WAS QUITE A SHOCK.
01. WHEN, WHERE AND HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
“In 2008 as player from Willem II. On the halfway line in the stadium of ADO playing against ADO den Haag. I was running forward with the ball, there was no one insight, yet I fell down.”
02. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT DURING THOSE MOMENTS?
“It felt like I had broken my knee. For a moment I couldn’t even move it, but the pain reduced. After that I played for 10 more minutes before I got replaced. It hurt, but it wasn’t anything extreme. Because of that I just kept going for the following week.”
03. DID YOU KNOW WHAT AN ACL INJURY WAS?
“Yes immediately! It happens so often in women’s football. In addition I watched Marlou Peeters, one of my friends, tear her ACL at a regular school practice, just 2 weeks before my injury. So when I was told this could very well be an ACL injury it was quite a shock.”
04. WHERE AND BY WHOM DID YOU GET SURGERY?
05. HOW DID THE SURGERY GO?
“Very well. I did however have a different surgery than most others. Because of this I have a larger scar starting at the outside of my knee till about half way up my leg. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes.”
06. WHERE DID YOU DO YOUR REHAB?
BECAUSE OF THIS MY RETURN WAS STRONG.
07. HOW DID THE REHAB GO?
“It was tough but went well. I got very nice guidance and got pushed to the edge to give the best I had. Because of this my return was strong. I also got to rehabilitate together with Marlou Peeters. No matter how bad it got, it was always nice to be in this together.”
08. DO YOU CONSIDER THE PHYSICAL OR THE MENTAL PART TO BE THE TOUGHEST? AND WHY?
“To be honest I can’t really decide because the physical part was very hard on me, probably because of the different surgery. In my case everything took longer than usual. The bending after the surgery is a true hell for everyone, and this took ages in my case. At one moment the doctors decided to just keep pushing, regardless of the pain. Mentally my main concern was tearing my ACL again, or that my leg/ knee simply wouldn’t ever be strong enough and I would simply collapse. That fear took about 2 months and when I finally returned to the football field that feeling of fear would continue. Luckily after my first match the fear was gone.”
LUCKILY AFTER MY FIRST MATCH THE FEAR WAS GONE.
09. HOW DID YOU EXPERIENCE YOUR COMEBACK?
“It was during a home match against ADO den Haag, I was playing for Frans de Kat’s Willem II at the beautiful sports facility ‘t Zand.”
10. ARE YOU PLAYING AND/OR TRAINING DIFFERENTLY NOW AFTER THE INJURY?
“No, I didn’t specifically change anything. I do however watch my diet and my work/ rest schedule, but that’s simply because I am older and wiser. I went to a very sporty school where I had to play sports very often and I had a wonderful trainer at Willem II. Frans de Kat and I made a schedule, on how I could do everything in the best way and where I should take some rest. He really helped me during that time.”
I THINK IT MADE ME MENTALLY STRONGER.
11. WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE INJURY IN RELATION TO YOUR CAREER?
“I think it made me mentally stronger. In a way of knowing how to treat your body when you want to achieve the maximum.”
12. WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR ATHLETES WITH A SIMILAR INJURY?
“Find yourself a great physiotherapist where you feel confident and at ease. Where you have to work hard, go to the edge but also regain your enjoyment. Use those 9 months to come back more in shape than ever before. Set goals for yourself.”
13. BEST ATHLETE WITH AN ACL INJURY HISTORY?
“Megan Rapinoe and Xavi Hernández”
FIND YOURSELF A GREAT PHYSIOTHERAPIST WHERE YOU FEEL CONFIDENT AND AT EASE.
Text: Jeroen van de Camp, Team-ACL.com