Bryan Oviedo is convinced Andre Gomes is at the best club to overcome his ankle problem and return to Everton’s team an even better footballer.
Left-back Oviedo suffered a serious leg injury playing for Everton in January 2014 and admits he felt a huge amount of empathy for Gomes when the Portuguese was hurt against Tottenham Hotspur nine days ago.
Oviedo, now with FC Copenhagen, nevertheless expects Evertonians to rally round their midfielder – and can draw on his own experiences to know Gomes will be in the finest medical hands during his rehabilitation.
The Costa Rican was in arguably the best phase of his career – and had fresh memories of scoring the goal which ended Everton’s 21-year wait for a win at Manchester United – when he suffered a double leg break in an FA Cup tie at Stevenage.
Oviedo ultimately spent 10 months on the sidelines but made a complete recovery and represented his country at last year’s World Cup in Russia.
Gomes’s injury was diagnosed as a fracture dislocation of his ankle, with manager Marco Silva giving the 26-year-old an outside chance of being back before the conclusion of this season.
“It is a really hard moment for a player when you feel something bad has happened," Oviedo told evertonfc.com.
“It was difficult for me when I saw what happened to Andre because I knew what he would have been feeling.
“You are in shock and don’t know how this could happen to you, it is like a dream, ‘This can’t be happening right now’.
“And you are feeling a lot of pain.
“But in this period, you need to stay strong and keep going, it is the only way.
“Andre can come back stronger, no doubt.”
Oviedo joined Everton in August 2012 but had to wait until November the following year for a significant run in the team.
He played seven league games on the spin, drilling home the only goal of Everton’s win at Old Trafford in December 2013, and was looking forward to featuring in the 2014 World Cup when he broke the tibia and fibula in his left leg.
Oviedo confesses the disappointment of being so cruelly dragged down from the peak of his game, allied to the realisation he would miss the Brazilian World Cup finals, left him feeling despondent on occasion.
In those low moments Oviedo was grateful for an outpouring of support from Evertonians – and the counsel and expertise of Everton’s medical team.
And the 29-year-old expects the popular Gomes to receive similar backing from his club’s supporters.
Equally, Everton’s Head of Therapy Services Danny Donachie was an instrumental figure in Oviedo’s successful rehabilitation.
“I was doing really well after waiting a long time for my chance to play for Everton,” said Oviedo.
“I was playing regularly and really enjoying my football, so the injury was very difficult.
“After two or three months [rehabilitating] it can start to feel a long time. You need help to stay positive.
“The medical staff are so important.
“I was with them every day, they were always positive and smiling and clear about my progress.”
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Oviedo’s name was regularly sung by Evertonians during the defender’s period out of the team and he was inundated by mail from supporters wishing him well.
“The fans will help Andre a lot,” said Oviedo.
“They were always supporting me, sending me letters and presents and saying they were looking forward to me being back. Their positive words meant a lot.
“Your teammates are important, too.
“You feel alone sometimes, you go to training and think, ‘Why did this happen to me’.
“Then someone comes to you and says, ‘Don’t worry, stay strong’.
“It is a process and at the end you will be fine.
“I had a few periods during my recovery when I did not feel good but after a while I was back to normal.
“You can be even better after a serious injury, if your mindset is right and you are determined.”
Oviedo made his full return in a Merseyside derby draw at Goodison Park and admits his subsequent periods in the team – and games he’s played for Sunderland and Danish side Copenhagen since leaving Everton in January 2017 – are all the more special for that extended period on the sidelines.
“I enjoy playing more than ever,” added Oviedo.
“You appreciate football even more after so long not being able to play.
“It is a difficult time and when you come back and can run and play again, it feels fantastic. I am sure it will be the same for Andre."