Grassick ready to go after overcoming rare career-threatening injury

Chris Grassick
“There was never a guarantee that I would be able to play again.”

It’s been a tough few years for Great Britain and Scotland’s Chris Grassick.

Two days before he spoke to us the midfielder played his first game – an inter-squad training match at Bisham Abbey – in more than a year and admitted he was feeling the effects of it.

But he was also mightily relieved to have taken part having suffered a rare injury that could have halted his career in his tracks.

A little more than 13 months previously Grassick captained his Scotland side to their best ever Commonwealth Games placing of sixth at Gold Coast 2018.

That included a fine victory over South Africa as well as impressive performances against Canada and Malaysia, both of whom are significantly higher in the world rankings.

As the tournament progressed though he noticed that he was finding it hard to sprint, a problem that refused to go away once he returned back.

It turned out that two of the tendons in his hamstring had stuck together, a consequence of the surgery he’d had on a significant ACL tear suffered in 2016 that kept him out of the game for 11 months and ruined his chances of appearing at the Olympic Games in Rio.

According to his surgeon, this condition was so rare that it only occurs once in every 1,000 cases and due to its lack of prevalence there was no certainty of Grassick would make a full recovery.

“I was trying to accept the fact that I may never play again which was pretty stressful and pretty upsetting at times,” the 28-year-old recalled. 

“But I also knew that if I gave up on trying to come back I would have regretted it forever – that was never really an option.

“You have two choices - you either feel sorry for yourself or accept your situation and do your best to deal with it. 

“I’m definitely proud of myself because I didn’t think I’d be able to do that kind of long rehab again but giving up was never an option so I was always trying to go for it.”

Having made his return to training, Grassick is now determined to get back on the pitch and play a competitive match situation as soon as possible.

Despite having suffered many delays and setbacks during his rehab, the Surbiton player is hoping to walk out in front of #ThePride in at least one of the four remaining home games in this year’s FIH Pro League.

He is also confident of being ready to feature for Scotland at the EuroHockey Championships this August, having played a pivotal role in helping them get promoted from the second tier two years ago.

“My aim is to play in the FIH Pro League this year,” he stated. 

“I’ve set targets the whole way along and often they’ve been knocked down so I’m itching to play.

“But I also understand I need a small bit of time to get a bit of sharpness back - being out for such a long time and then trying to come back into a team that’s performing so well is exciting but also challenging. 

Chris Grassick #ThePride

“I’m also really excited for the Euros. We’ve got more players in our group who are genuinely world class and we’re very competitive with some of the other nations, we just need to get up to the right intensity for the start tournament which will be a challenge.

“Staying up is our goal and it’s certainly achievable. The main thing is that we go there, give a good account of ourselves and enjoy it. 

“A lot of people – Derek Forsyth, the squad and the staff – have worked so hard for a long time to get there so we want to make sure we give it our best shot but also enjoy it at the same time.”

Success in either or both of those events will certainly be a positive conclusion to what has been a very testing period for Grassick.

And while he is looking to put these injuries firmly behind him, the popular member of the squad is also very grateful for the support he has received from a number of people, ranging from the medical staff to his team-mates, family and numerous fans.

“It’s always nice to get support from people,” he said. 

“It can be quite a lonely place when you’re rehabbing, especially long term, because you are quite disconnected from the group no matter how hard you try to integrate. 

“But I’ve had great support all the way along from so many people and just to know that people take an interest and want to spur you along is really nice.

“I would like to say thanks to every member of the GB hockey staff for supporting me and playing a huge part in getting me back to this stage and to the Intensive Rehab Unit (IRU) for all their support.”

Great Britain's men face Germany in the FIH Pro League