FOOTBALLERS will tell you that having to deal with injury is part and parcel of their profession. If you’re going to have a lengthy career, you’re almost certainly going to find yourself sidelined through injury at some stage.

But can anything really prepare you for the type of injury that might keep you out of action for the best part of a year? At the start of January, Middlesbrough forward Marcus Browne damaged his cruciate ligaments in an FA Cup tie at Brentford. Trying to prevent an opponent from closing down Hayden Coulson, he planted his feet in the turf, only for his knee to immediately twist in the opposite direction.

After receiving oxygen on the pitch, he was stretchered to the dressing room. And so began a rehabilitation process that is only just beginning to come to an end now. How did Browne deal with the initial desperation of suffering such a serious setback? And how has he dealt with both the mental and physical challenges that have presented themselves in the last ten months?


I got injured and I got taken off on the stretcher. When I got in the changies, I didn’t feel too bad, but I was on gas and air so maybe that’s why.

I remember getting on the coach on the way back and I had my knee in a brace. I knew I’d injured myself, but I didn’t know to what extent. I didn’t have it in my mind straight away that I’d be out for nine months. I knew something had happened, I'd never experienced pain like that in my life, but I didn't know what it was.

I was very optimistic. I went for a scan a few days after, once the swelling had gone down, and I remember being optimistic thinking I hadn't done anything that bad. I'd just got back in the team, playing well, enjoying myself, I was thinking, ‘This can't happen’.

I was quite positive, but then the scan results came back, and the doc called me. I was at home, I remember. He told me I'd done my ACL and I was just lost for words. I didn't know what to say. I was just looking at my phone like, ‘What do I do?’ I know lads that have done theirs and the long rehab process. It was devastating, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.


I had to go to London to have the operation. I had that, thank God it went fine and everything was successful.

After that, the month after that, was probably the worst weeks of my life. You're in pain, on meds, you don't have a clue what's going on, waking up at crazy hours in the night.

I remember when I came back up (North) my mum came back up with me to look after me and stuff. I remember she was downstairs in the kitchen, making a cup of tea in the evening. It sounds stupid, but I thought someone was breaking into my house. I was that out of it on meds, I thought someone had broken in. I actually tried to get up and get out of bed and get my crutches.

That's the hardest bit of the rehab, getting past that stage. You can't move. You have to sleep on your back. You can't bend your leg, you can't get about. After you get past that stage, things start to look a bit brighter.

The first step is learning how to walk again because I've got a new set-up, my knee is set-up in a different way, I have two screws in my knee, there's all the muscle wastage.

When you get past that stage, it's very low-level gym work, machines to try and get it moving. You don't want it to recover in a stiff position, so it's important to keep it moving at the start of rehab. That's painful, but you have to work through that soreness to keep it mobile.


The club have been very good with me, they've mixed it up, they've had me going out to places to do different sessions at different places rather than just being in the gym every day. The club and staff know, mentally, it can get very dark if you're doing the same things every day.

I've had my days where I've come in and moaned and not wanted to come in, got sick of it, but the staff have been great with me.

First and foremost, though, family comes first. My family are the ones I go to, to speak about dealing with it mentally. On the football side, the lads are best to speak to, especially Duncan (Watmore) and Paddy (McNair), because they've been through it. But in terms of mentally and psychologically, I'd rather speak to my family. It's that sense of comfort.

The gaffer has been spot on with me. He's spoken to me regularly, to make sure I'm feeling good and doing everything properly. He's making sure I'm still at it and not slacking. That's the sort of character he is.


As part of my rehab, the club arranged for me to do something a bit different – it was basically virtual reality to make it feel like you were out there in a game.

It's like a massive headset and glasses. You're basically on the pitch. You have all the gear on and when you're looking through the lenses, you can't see what room you're in, you're on the pitch.

It's good to be fair. There are different challenges you have to do. There are mannequins as players, they're moving and you need to find them. Any little bit of awareness I can get back before I get back in can only help. It was beneficial, although it made me realise how far off I was when I was doing it.


I’m nearly back now – hopefully I’ll be back in training again by the next international break – and being out for so long has definitely made me think about things, in terms of my life and my career.

What I did learn was that, at times in the past, I was being too harsh on myself. Now, I've accepted the fact I struggled to settle in when I first moved up to Middlesbrough.

It's a completely different culture. I came up with my brother, and I was kicking myself all the time. I was playing, but not playing well, and going home and kicking myself thinking, ‘What is going on, you're so much better than this’.

I couldn't find the answers, so that would make me more and more frustrated. It's only now I've settled I realise that's what it was when I first moved up.

Even though I'm injured, I'm in a much better place now. We're blessed. I have my dream job, so when I get out on the pitch, I feel free.

Going to the games and watching the lads, having the crowd there now, I miss that. I miss being on the pitch with the lads. There are loads of stuff you miss. I'm in a privileged position. I just can't wait to get back, there's a lot more to come and I can't wait to show the fans that.k