Wales captain Ashley Williams has reflected on a serious injury that left him in the worst pain of his life.
During a friendly with Mexico in LA back in June, Williams suffered a broken rib, which lead to a punctured and collapsed lung.
A collision with Mexico forward Javier Hernandez resulted in “multiple breaks” of his ribs, which then lead to a punctured lung, later leading to that lung collapsing.
Williams returns to represent his country for the first time tomorrow when Wales face Republic of Ireland in the Nations League Group B4 opener.
And ahead of the game, Williams recalled the trauma of the injury. He said: “It was quite serious, but I think that at the time, I didn’t really see it like that.
“It might have been to do with the morphine,” he joked.
“But I was just getting on with it and I knew I was in a lot of pain. I’ve been lucky enough in my career that I haven’t had to go to hospital or anything like that.
“Obviously we were in a different country and it was a little bit tough because of the pain. It was the worst pain I’ve ever been in.
“With the ribs, it’s difficult because it’s every breath. Anyone who has ever done that knows how painful it is.”
Williams had to be left behind by the Wales squad with the injury preventing him from flying home with his team mates.
“It was just about getting back,” added the Wales skipper. “I had to stay there for a little while – I couldn’t fly.
“Then it was just about getting back and getting fit really and getting on with it.”
The injury was the first serious setback of Williams’ career and he holds a positive view despite the seriousness of the incident.
He also made it clear that he holds no bad feelings towards Hernandez, who accidentally caused the injury. Williams added: “We know that injuries are part of the game and I’ve been lucky through my career and it was just my time.
“It was a bit of a freak, it wasn’t a dangerous tackle and for me, it was just about getting on with it and getting back as quick as possible.
“The medical guys are brilliant here, and the medical guys out there as well and they were on top of it. We got the procedure done quite quick and I felt like I was in good hands.”
The severity of the injury makes it a scary thought for most with that sort of injury not being associated with football.
And it could have been a lot worse had he flown back with his team-mates, and had the medical team not spotted the that the rib break could lead to further issues.
But Williams doesn’t think too much about what could have been, instead concentrating on moving forward with the awareness that anything can happen when you step on the pitch as a player.
“You think of it a little bit,” added Williams. “It was a bit worrying, but more after the event.
“I think it could have been a lot worse, but you see people with head injuries and you know every time you put the shirt on and go out there, it is a possibility.
“If it does happen, you just have to make the best of it and get back as soon as possible.”