Paul Malone has described the support he has received from the football community since suffering his season-ending injury as “incredible”.
The Corby Town defender has been speaking publicly, and exclusively to the Northamptonshire Telegraph, for the first time since he suffered a broken leg in two places and a dislocated ankle during last week’s 5-1 victory over Weymouth at Steel Park.
The Steelmen have since kept their bid for promotion from the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division firmly on course with a 3-0 win against Frome Town at the weekend.
But the vision of Malone laid out on the pitch and then the dressing-room floor with his shocking injury is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
The fans’ favourite, for the time being, remains in Kettering General Hospital after having an operation at the end of last week.
But he has spoken openly about the moment when he realised what had happened as he attempted to block a shot from Weymouth’s Adam Kelly and the support he has received since.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Malone said: “I just remember their guy shooting and then running towards the ball after Paul (Walker) had saved it and I just thought I had to get my body in the way to stop him from scoring.
“I planted my leg and my body carried on and I remember hearing and feeling a massive thud.
“I knew straight away what had happened and after that it just turned into a nightmare.
“The ambulance took nearly three hours to get there and I was on gas and air but that ran out after 40 minutes.
“I have certainly never felt as much pain as did at that time but the only thing that stopped it was being able to hear the fans and (club secretary) Gerry Lucas on the tannoy.
“It helped with the boys coming in at half-time but it was obviously a very emotional time and I have certainly never been in a situation where I have been lying on a dressing-room floor in that much pain.
“The way the boys went about their business with all that going on was amazing.
“I think they went out there and reflected how I was feeling and I couldn’t have asked for any more than the performance they put on.
“A lot of them stayed with me for around 45 minutes after the game as well, it’s a real sign of the togetherness we have here.
“Over the past week, the support I have received has been incredible.
“I has made me feel very humble to be honest, to know that a lot of people respect me. I have got a lot of footballing friends.
“I have been at Corby for a long time and have played with a lot of different players and I have always tried to be respectful and welcoming to all of them.
“And the support I have received from them and the wider football community since it happened has been amazing.”
Malone revealed he suffered a fall in hospital. although it hasn’t set things back in any way.
And he is hoping to be able to go home soon and begin the long road to recovery.
“I haven’t been able to get out of bed yet because the break and dislocation was so bad,” he added.
“And I had a fall the other night after they moved me to a different ward. I had a sleep and woke up and didn’t realise where I was and tried to get out of bed.
“Luckily, that hasn’t set me back so it’s a case of me pushing through the pain barrier and being able to get moving about. Once that happens, I’ll be able to go home.”
Don’t miss more from our exclusive interview with Paul Malone in Thursday’s Corby Telegraph