Sorry, but you'll never play again

Jason Snell  
Tuesday, July 2
Geelong Advertiser

JASON Snell was expecting some good news when he flew to Sydney last Thursday to see a specialist about his injured ankle.

He even booked a late night flight to allow time to catch up with friends Adam Goodes and Gerard Bennett from the Swans after visiting the clinic.

Snell was initially relieved to hear ankle specialist Kim Slater say he knew the exact cause of Snell's ankle problems.

Resigned to not playing again this year, he was ready to correct the problem and set a course for round one, 2003.

In the few moments that followed, his world fell apart.

He was told he would never play footy again. Worse still, he would never run again and could carry a limp throughout life.

He was stunned.

``When he told me what the ramifications of it were, to tell you the truth, I can't remember what I felt. It was just devastating,'' Snell said.

``I held myself together, got to the desk where you have to pay and stuff and held back tears. Then I got outside and I just lost it, I broke down and didn't know where I was.

``I rang a few people and told them what was going on. It was the worst day of my life.

``Never did I in my wildest dreams think this was as bad as it was. This shouldn't happen to people at 24.''

Snell went straight to the airport and caught the next flight home. He is still coming to grips with the news.

Surgery appears to be his only course of action and it must take place in two months given how far his ankle has deteriorated. The joint has moved forward two centimetres, there is no cartilage left in the joint and the taluf bone at the top of his foot is rubbing on his tibia and fibula.

He takes anti-inflammatories every day for the pain and with every step the joint ``clicks'' as the bones rub.

``My ankle is too far gone to do anything else,'' he said. ``We are looking into ankle replacement but at this stage I don't think it's an option because they have to replace them every 10 or 15 years and I'm too young.

``I am going to investigate what they can do in America, maybe see if they've got anything over there. Even with artificial joints you can't run on them because they are not your normal ankle joint, you can't put as much weight on them.''

Snell's surgery will involve grafting bone from his hip onto his ankle. It will be screwed on so that the whole joint in locked in place.

``It is a life-changing thing. In some ways it is a disability,'' he said.

``You work your ass off for seven years, did the hard yards as a kid to break into the team and the years where you're supposed to be playing your best footy, I won't be playing at all.

``It just feels like it is all happening to someone else.

``Hopefully, I can walk without a limp again one day and be pain-free, but there are no guarantees.''

Snell, who is studying for a marketing degree, has found it difficult to think about his future in the past few days.

He wants to stay involved in football in some capacity and hopes it will be with the Cats.

In announcing his retirement last night, he made special mention of his family, girlfriend Emma, the club's doctor Jeanne McGivern and physiotherapist Nick Ames for their support.