Liverpool's new star Darwin Nunez almost walked away from the beautiful game after a knee injury left him in tears after every training session.
As a breakthrough star at Uruguayan side Penarol, academy director Fernando Curutchet had hoped to bring Nunez into the first team. But with the Under 23 side battling for the title, Curutchet pulled back and allowed Nunez to stay put.
However, after a 17-year-old Nunez challenged for a header against Sud America he landed awkwardly – tearing his ACL. The resulting comeback saw Nunez almost walk away from the game with his knee in so much pain.
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Curutchet told The Athletic: "I got a lump in my throat when I found out what had happened. Apparently, the pitch was in a poor state. It was such a bad injury at what should have been his big moment."
Leonardo Ramos, who took over as Penarol boss in 2017, added: “He’d end every training session in tears. At one stage I took him aside and asked him how he was. He told me he wanted to quit football and return to Artigas.
"He said he could not take the pain. He said that he loved playing but that he could not give 100 per cent because of his knee. It was a lot to cope with. He was clearly feeling really low.”
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However, Ramos refused to let Nunez walk away from the game and after a 'father-son' chat, Nunez agreed.
And instead of walking away from football, Ramos finally fielded his young star in November 2017 – but the pain remained in Nunez's knee. Scans following his brief cameo showed extra bone growth in his knee, and Nunez was forced into the operating theatre, again.
Nunez could finally start his career the following June, a year-and-a-half after the initial setback.
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