Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Win the World Cup? Gall's Just Happy to Be Walking Again

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Win the World Cup? Gall's Just Happy to Be Walking Again

Article excerpt

Byline: HOCKEY Rod Gilmour in Bhubaneswar

THERE may be inexperience flowing through England's World Cup squad, where 13 will make their tournament debut in India, but that means little to James Gall.

Three years ago, midfielder Gall sustained swelling to the brain when he slipped and fell 12 feet through a skylight at Surbiton Hockey Club.

The 23-year-old was placed in an induced coma for 36 hours, suffered a fractured skull and spine and spent two weeks in hospital.

"I didn't really know what was going on and you never get the severity of the injury," said Gall, ahead of England's opening pool match against China today here in Bhubaneswar.

"It was a freak accident and it's one way to say it was about having to start everything again. There is always that drive to get back and keep going."

With the little matter of learning to walk again -- it would be a year before Gall would play hockey once more -- he attempted to finish his studies at University of Nottingham.

Yet he could not do two lectures in a row without feeling fatigued. He said: "It was a pretty tough recovery, both physically and mentally, and trying to balance university, not playing hockey and working out how to get back fit."

Remarkably, only two years after his accident, he made his England debut, in South Africa.

It came after a "whirlwind period" during which he was asked to play for England Under-21s. "Probably not, but let's give it a go," was Gall's recollection when the call came.

"There wasn't a moment when it clicked," he added of his return to hockey. "I remember not being able to trap a ball without thinking this is really strange. I had to relearn the skills."

His Twitter profile states that he is a traumatic brain injury survivor and Gall says he would now be willing to share his story publicly, with the help of team manager Andy Halliday, an ex-firearms officer with the Metropolitan Police, who works closely with the charity Hockey for Heroes. …

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