Matthew Udol: “I could almost be a physiotherapist! »

After three years of respite, the Messin thinks he has left his worries behind him. But last November, Matthieu Udol saw his cruciate ligament in his knee rupture for the fourth time. At 25, the left side has befriended the doctors, knows the best surgeons in the country, but above all hopes to be able to put on the crampons as soon as possible.

Before your relapse, you had been spared for nearly three seasons. During this period, did you enjoy playing again without thinking about injuries?
Yes, clearly. Well, unfortunately, it was interrupted with the Covid which truncated one of these seasons, but I was playing totally free from that, in my head and in my body. Inevitably, we always have apprehension when we resume, but there it was already a little while that I was quiet. It happened at a time when I was not expecting it…

This moment takes place in Marseille on November 7th. At halftime, you replace Jemerson, excluded, and you are injured. Do you tell yourself that the spell persists?
It’s complicated because at the time, I thought it would be less serious than it was. Admittedly, I veiled my face a little. Until I had the MRI, I didn’t particularly want to think about a relapse of my crusader, I thought it was a sprain. I realized that later, after the exams. Even the doc didn’t tell me right away. I think when he field tested me, his opinion was that the Crusader had been stopped, but he didn’t tell me that right away. It was tricky in my situation too.

“I’m still young in my footballing career, so I think I still have some great things to show. I’m looking to do my best to come back, like I did the other times.”

After your third cruciate ligament rupture, you told us you didn’t want to let go. At 25, are you still in the same state of mind?
Of course, I’m still young in my football career, so I think I still have great things to show. I’m looking to do my best to come back, like I did the other times. Yes, I have to come back because I have a contract, it’s my job and I can’t let go. Then we’ll see how everything goes. But it is certain that the days which followed the announcement of my breakup, I had somewhat more negative reflections on the follow-up to be given to my career. Now it’s over, I’m really in labor. You will see me again on a field.

You had been named vice-captain of FC Metz, a team with sometimes difficult rankings. How come he leaves his teammates so early in the season with this status?
It’s not easy, then with the CAN period which has arrived, there are many players who have left. Sportingly, it was a period that was not easy to manage. Once you’ve been injured for a long time like me, you have no way to help the team. We know we won’t be there. It’s also difficult to have to “step aside” and see it from afar. I try to go see them at home, but I don’t have a special place in the locker room. As I am not in the field, I find it difficult to intervene. The rest of the week, if it is necessary to encourage the players, I am present. I think there are other experienced players who are also capable of taking on this leadership role.

Do they, your teammates, still have a connection with you?
I am almost daily with them, even if I sometimes have staggered schedules. Today, people mostly ask me how I’m doing, how things are going, since it’s been a while now. Now that I’m in rehabilitation, people ask me when I’ll start running again.

Do you have some sort of injury routine?
Rather a work routine! I already know what I’m going through, it’s easier for me to approach this rehabilitation. There I have already passed the most complicated period, where I care about it alone and feel like I am doing nothing. Now I’ve started heavier workloads, getting back on the bike, etc. I have more fun. On a day-to-day basis, I know exactly what to do. I could almost manage! (Laughs.)

“I already know what I’m going through, it’s easier for me to approach this rehabilitation. […] I could almost manage! »

The fact of being thus confronted with the medical field, didn’t that make you want to become a doctor or a surgeon, like your former team-mate Nicolas Basin?
I don’t think I’ll dedicate myself to this kind of study and it’s not necessarily an area that interests me to practice. But it’s knowledge that I acquired, because I like to know what people do to me, why I work, and today I know the human body well! I could almost be a physio, but my wife is a physio, so I’ll leave that to her.

Have you thought about resuming your studies during these periods of convalescence?
When I left my baccalaureate, I started studies that I couldn’t finish, then I did a DU in sports career management with the club. Beyond that, I’m more in training, in things that are not necessarily “diplomatic”. In English, for example, or things that revolve around entrepreneurship and real estate, but not at the university level. When you’re injured you have more time to learn other things, but even when I’m not injured those are things I like to do, focus on other things outside of football. I’ve always liked doing other things on the side, cultivating myself, learning other things that interest me. It is something important for my personal balance. Obviously, that speeds things up a bit. If I find a course that really interests me, why not, but today I don’t know exactly what to do later.

After four cruciate ligament injuries, are we still getting messages of support?
I got a lot of messages of support from fans because for sure I’m a player who did everything here (he was trained in Metz, editor’s note) and all that is known here until today. Even in the stands, I could see things. It’s heart warming, and it makes you want to come back even more like the other times!

You scored your first goal in Ligue 1 this season, was it a kind of revenge for what happened for several months?
I didn’t experience it like that, because it’s not really my role to score. It was more a personal pleasure, especially after the previous season, the Covid, the absent supporters… It was the first game of the season at home, it was a great moment!

What do you think of when you score your first Ligue 1 goal?
I thought of my family, of my mother who is no longer here today. I know she would have been very happy to see that, she who has traveled as much as possible to see matches even outside and who would have been present without that. And then I then thought of the supporters, who were there in Saint-Symphorien.

Have you already set a return date?
No, but I know the season is over for me. I will do everything to be ready in June, to have finished my preparation and to attack again with the rest of the group before the start of the next season. I just hope that my rehabilitation will go well, that nothing is holding me back, and that I can come back like the other times, without relapse.

Interview by Anna Carreau

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