Friday, 16 October 2015

Danielle battles back to top level sport

UCLan SENS graduate Danielle Gibbons says she is proud of the comeback she has made to the FA Women's Super League after having a benign brain tumour removed.

The Liverpool Ladies FC goalkeeper missed five months of the season following surgery which left her deaf in one ear, but returned to play three matches before the end of the campaign. Danielle told BBC Sport she wasn't going to let anything stop her playing again.

She said: "There wasn't one point when I thought I wouldn't get back - if I couldn't have played for Liverpool again, then I was determined to play in the Olympics for the deaf team or something like that."

Gibbons was diagnosed with the non-cancerous tumour called acoustic neuroma in 2013 and initially kept it from her teammates as she did not want them to treat her any differently.

"I eventually told them at the beginning of this year and to be honest that was harder than telling my parents," said Danielle. "I didn't really expect them to be as upset as some of them were, which was nice in a way because it showed they cared."

Surgeons cut through her balance and hearing nerve to remove the tumour - a procedure which has left her completely deaf in her left ear, and the recovery was long and slow.

"At the beginning it was really basic, I just had to walk around the pitch turning cones over, which took me a really long time," she said. "It was really tedious and boring but you have to start with the basics. Even now I have to do a lot of standing on one leg with my eyes closed because my balance still isn't recovered."

After returning to training Danielle targeted getting back into the squad before the end of the season, but after regular keeper Libby Stout injured her shoulder she was called into action for Liverpool's final two league matches and their Champions League game at Brescia.

"I was incredibly nervous and physically shaking before the game, which has never happened before," she added. "But I was really excited to get playing again and proud to have overcome everything and then to get the chance to play in the Champions League was incredible."

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