Férland Mendy: "The doctor said they might have to amputate my leg"
The Real Madrid left-back reflected on one of the toughest moments of his career, when he defied doctors who told him he would never play football again.
Férland Mendy warned of the dangers Real Madrid can expect to encounter from Atalanta, their rivals in the Last 16 of the Champions League. The left-back was full of praise for the Italian side, telling uefa.com, "We'll have to be careful. They haven't come here for just for the sake of it. We know that they are a side that plays well and scores a lot of goals. It will be difficult but I'm sure it will be a great game. We will have to play to our best to have a chance of winning".
Mendy also had kinds words to say about his coach Zinedine Zidane, for whom he has only admiration. "He's a legend and to be honest, it's an honour to be coached by him. He exudes charisma. It's always a pleasure to chat to him, we have spoken about the French national team. He has given me advice and I like to give my best in every game".
The French full-back recalled his first days at Real Madrid and an opportunity he could not turn down. "When I first arrived, I knew what it would be like, that I would be among great players. At first, you are a bit shy but gradually you get to know people and learn how the squad functions. Now I am playing more, but I only try to make the most of the playing time I get. I wouldn't say I am an undisputed member of the side. And besides, it's crazy to think I've gone from almost giving up football to playing for Real Madrid".
Mendy overcomes all odds
He recalled some of the experiences which marked him when he was only starting out. "It's a great story. I went through a difficult moment, but I managed to come out of it. I spent seven years at PSG, I started in the Under-11s but I got injured just before entering the academy. I had arthritis in my hip and I had an infection, so I needed an operation and I was in hospital recovering for a long time. I spent two or three months in a plaster cast. After the operation the doctor came to see me and told that I wouldn't play football ever again. He even said I might need to have my leg amputated. I was in a wheelchair for quite a while, then on crutches and after that I had to learn how to walk again".
Despite the doctor's bleak assessment, Mendy admitted that he never gave up hope of returning to play football. "I thought that I would be able to walk immediately. I tried, I raised myself out of the wheelchair but I fell down right away. I had no energy left in my legs because I hadn't walked for so long and my legs weren't used to moving," he explained. "But despite that, I always thought that football wasn't over for me and I told everyone that I was going to be back playing. Most people thought that was impossible, but I learned to walk again and played with pain to my hip for about a year and a half. I was named the best left-back for two years running. So to be honest, things have gone well for me".
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