Derby County’s Andre Wisdom says he is ‘feeling better every day’ after recovering from injuries sustained in an unprovoked attack in June.
The defender missed Derby’s final seven games of the 2019/20 season after he was the victim of an unprovoked assault and robbery.
The injuries resulted in Wisdom being admitted to hospital and undergoing surgery, before returning home a few days later.
He began to step up his recovery before the campaign concluded towards the end of July, however he was not available for selection at that stage.
Wisdom, who turned 27 in May, reported back for pre-season training in August ahead of the 2020/21 campaign and got match minutes under his belt in the recent friendlies against Doncaster Rovers and Brentford.
The popular defender, who made 20 appearances in all competitions last season and forced his way into Phillip Cocu’s side after recovering from a knee injury, says he is progressing in the right direction.
As well as being safe and well, he is grateful that the injuries he sustained will not prevent him doing the job be loves.
Speaking to RamsTV, Wisdom said: “I’m doing well and it has been good to be back in training and playing some games.
“It has been tough since what happened and I’m still not at a hundred per cent, but each day is getting better thanks to the medical staff and the club doctor here at the club.
“I’m a fairly relaxed person and as things moved so quickly with what happened, I think you have to be grateful that things didn’t go the other way.
“I am still able to play football and that is the main thing. Football has been my hobby, my job and my passion.”
He added: “It wasn’t a huge concern about not being able to play again because of the injuries; but from the football side it was more about the mental aspect. The staff here have known me for a long time, though, and they know what I am like.”
Wisdom, only a few days after the incident, visited his team-mates at their team hotel prior to the 1-0 victory over Preston North End at Deepdale.
His surprise appearance at the players’ pre-match meal provided a boost to the Rams’ players prior to the game, which was won thanks to a sublime free-kick from skipper Wayne Rooney.
The gathering with his team-mates provided Wisdom with a feeling he has seldom experienced before and he explained: “I don’t get overwhelmed with emotion very often, but that was one time where I had to talk to myself.
“I could feel my body change. I thought ‘could I cry here?’. Then I knew I couldn’t as the lads would be on to me!
“It was a nice moment ahead of the game, and good to catch up with the manager and the lads. For me, it was nice to let everyone know I was alright.”
He added: “It was a little overwhelming in the sense people were asking me questions and stuff. I looked a little different to how I do now - and I was walking a bit like a penguin!”
Derby’s supporters quickly rallied round Wisdom, especially on social media, with messages of support.
A group of Rams fans started a fundraising page to buy a giant flag for Wisdom, to take pride of place at Pride Park Stadium for the final three home fixtures of the season.
Over £4,500 was raised inside 24 hours and the remaining money from the flag purchase was donated to the Derby Deaf Football Club and Liverpool Homeless Football Club.
Wisdom has thanked Derby’s supporters for their best wishes during a very difficult time.
He said: “The flag gesture was really nice. I do not have social media and I think the fans went through my brother and also the club.
“There was quite a bit of money raised and it went to a good cause as well. The banner was massive! Seeing it was really good.
“It was nice to have that support and I appreciate it from all the fans, especially the guys that put the wheels in motion. Hopefully when the world returns to normal, I can show them my gratitude.”
Wisdom, who had a loan spell with Derby during the 2013/14 season from Liverpool before joining permanently in the summer of 2017, has made 105 appearances in a Rams shirt in total.
The 2019/20 campaign also saw Wisdom score his first Rams goal, and only the second of his career, in a 4-2 victory over Northampton Town in an Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay.