Seán St Ledger ready for action thanks to healing Hans, the Munich doctor
Defender returns for Ireland after five-month absence
It was a long road back, Seán St Ledger finally putting five frustrating months behind him when he came on as an 86th-minute substitute for Leicester City against Sheffield Wednesday two Saturdays ago. His last game before that had been on October 6th, the injury spell that followed the lengthiest he had endured in his career.
Hamstring injuries, he knew well, can be tricky enough to get over, but this one was “more complicated”, eventually prompting a visit to Munich to see Dr Hans Wilhelm Muller Wolfahrt – “Healing Hans”, as he’s dubbed.
The renowned specialist has worked with everyone from Boris Becker to Ronaldo to Bono to Luciano Pavarotti in his time, his occasional injecting of calves’ blood in to his patients leading him to being dubbed, well, “unorthodox”.
Unorthodox or not, St Ledger has no complaints, crediting the Bayern Munich club doctor with his return to fitness.
“He was fantastic, he sorted the problem. I owe him a big thank you, to be honest. It was a haematoma, basically like a squash ball on the back of my hamstring, texture like jelly, which was stopping the muscle from healing. The option was to have surgery and have it taken out, but I was against that. That was the reason I went down the injection path.”
What did he do, exactly?
“What he does with most of his players – injections into the hamstring and, the next day, in to your back. You get your vitamins, the magnesium and the zinc. I went over a few weeks later for the scan and got the all clear.”
What did he inject?
“I don’t know . . . calf’s blood maybe? Not sure. I think he keeps it quiet. It did the trick anyway. It was brilliant. He was a really nice guy, really professional. The second time I went over Miroslav Klose and Arjen Robben were there, so he’s obviously the best.”
Just about the only upside to his lay-off was he missed that 1-6 trauma against Germany, but, he says, he’s desperate to get back in the Irish team, even if tomorrow’s game might have come a little too soon for him to return to the starting line-up.
“The manager [Giovanni Trapattoni ] has been brilliant with me in the time that I’ve been out. I can’t speak highly enough of him. I feel fit, I’ve played two games in a short period of time for my club, I’ve had a five-month break, I’m relatively fresh, but whatever decision he makes, I’ll just have to go with it.
“He’s been in the game long enough to make that decision. For me, it’s just great to be back involved. Everyone who turns up wants to play, the main objective is to get to Rio. If it’s the case that I don’t play and we get there, then that's perfectly fine.”
In his absence, there have been more than a few changes to the side, not least in the back four, where he had established a central defensive partnership with Richard Dunne before he, too, was ruled out with injury.
“There has been a big upheaval, but change is going to happen. It happens to the best of teams.
“And new players come through, like Séamus Coleman James McCarthy, Marc Wilson, who have been brilliant. They’ll be in the team for many years to come. Whether we qualify or not they’ll benefit from the experience of this campaign and hopefully that will stand to us in the future.
“But, of course, to be missing someone like Richard is massive, you miss him when you’re down there fighting for points. Hopefully he’ll be back, the sooner he is the better.”
“Healing Hans” might be worth a visit.