Ansell well on road to repaying Reds’ faith

Central defender, Nick Ansell, is back on the field and ready to repay the faith shown in him by Adelaide United’s hierarchy.

Central defender, Nick Ansell, is back on the field and ready to repay the faith shown in him by Adelaide United’s hierarchy.

The 28-year-old was instrumental in his side’s 1-0 win against Macarthur in his first full game since he signed for the Club prior to the 2021/22 season.

The experienced defender completed his comeback from a ruptured Achilles that occurred in a ‘freak accident’ in training at the start of December 2021.

He didn’t miss a beat despite the early test of a defensive reshuffle following the dismissal of his centre-back partner in Ben Warland.

Ansell of course admits it has been a long road back, but one that he was fully committed to from the very beginning.

“Playing that first 90 minutes was a massive win for myself and for the performance the team put in to get the win made it even better,” Ansell conceded.

“Mentally I needed to tick that last box and play the whole game after such a long road back to fitness, but I’m the kind of player that fights for everything so I knew I was going to come back no matter what.

“It’s so important when returning from a significant injury to put that doubt and that voice in the back of your mind to bed with a full performance and know I can compete like I used to.”

Ansell has long been an admirer and beneficiary of the culture of the Club and one of the reasons he was so committed to making a comeback.

Assisted by the dedicated medical and fitness staff and players coming in and out of rehab plus the support of wife, Nadene, whom he married last July, Ansell was further boosted by the unwavering support of the Club.

Head Coach, Carl Veart, and the Reds displayed a staunch show of faith in Ansell’s ability, by extending his contract for two more seasons whilst the defender was still in rehabilitation.

“I have to give a lot of thanks to everyone at the Club who supported me and showed faith in me, especially to re-sign me while I was still completing my rehab,” he said.

“United made it so much easier for Nadene and I in that they made an offer early on, which gave me the peace of mind to fully focus on my rehab knowing there was another contract on the table.

“It allowed me to fully focus on what I needed to do to get back on the pitch.”

Ansell details an arduous journey complemented by hundreds of hours in the gym and numerous exercises to re-strengthen the Achilles and surrounding calf muscles.

“At the beginning I had no idea what the recovery of a ruptured Achilles entailed, and I reached out to a few other footballers telling me how they went during their own rehabs.

“For the first three months you’re really stuck in a moon boot and can’t really do too much on your feet.

“Once you’re out of the boot, you’re in the gym and running and running for a really long time in what is a very lengthy process.

“Then you start sprinting and changing direction as well, and it’s all about building confidence in the body again.

“It was for sure one of the most challenging moments of my career which made the game last weekend such a big relief for me afterwards.”

The match included Ansell’s first minutes at Coopers Stadium, and it was everything he had dreamed it to be.

His individual performance was top-drawer on the night, barely giving Macarthur an opportunity in a commanding display.

“To step out there was amazing,” he said. “The supporters got around us for the entire game and we needed them too.

“So many say it, but Coopers is the best stadium in the A-League, and it was great to play for the home side after facing it in an away team on many occasions.

“I can’t wait to see what we can do in the second half of the season, and it’s a real opportunity for us to use that confidence and push towards the finals now.”

Of course it helped to have the impassable Joe Gauci behind him and the defence as well.

“On the weekend, Joey was coming out for everything and really using his height to claim those balls over the top of me and Javi’s (López) head as we all saw.

“It fills you with confidence when you have someone like that behind you and I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t have a long career with the Socceroos.”

Ansell had a successful career at Melbourne Victory and has joined only a handful of players to have represented both teams.

He also featured in stints across Portugal and Korea, firmly placing him as a leader in the backline and one United are fortunate to be able to call upon yet again.

Now settled at the Reds and back on the pitch, Ansell’s timely return as an experienced senior player is a huge boost for his team ahead of a crucial second half of the season.

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