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Name Pape Souare
Gender Male
Ethnic Senegalese
Job Senegalese Footballer

Affiliation

Org Senegal National Team
Club as Player Crystal Palace

2017 09 11 Tweet

1 year today I was in a life changing accident that could have ended my career, today I am officially match fit! All Praise to God #Faith

2017 09 16 Retrieve

[Pape Souare talks about his experience being involved in a serious car accident one year ago] You can’t move on if you have this kind of accident. You have to think about if you can play football again or not. I was thinking about it every day, but you have to just keep going. That’s what I’ve done

2017 09 18 Retrieve

[What happened to him at a little after midday on Sunday 11 September 2016] He kept saying my name, which surprised me. I didn’t understand how he knew my name. He was telling me: ‘Stay with me, stay with me’. I was really listening to him, waiting and waiting, and I couldn’t move or do anything

At that moment you can do something stupid, trying to move your leg or trying to get out of the car, so I have to thank that stranger for talking to me, for telling me to wait and trust the ambulance people who were coming. But even when he was talking to me I was nervous. The door was on my leg and I didn’t know what was going on. The only thing I had in Africa growing up was my dream of being a footballer. I only have my legs to do that. I was worried. I was scared, thinking about my career

I remember them cutting the roof to get me out because the door was still on my leg, so they couldn’t lift me. And I remember the air ambulance before they gave me something to stop the pain. By then I was starting to feel my leg

[He would wake up in the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel to find Palace’s club doctor, Dr Zaf Iqbal, who had trained previously at the facility and had been contacted by paramedics, already a reassuring presence on the scene] I had scans of the whole of my body, and was told I’d broken my jaw and my right thigh bone. [Had the impact been a couple of centimetres higher] it could have broken my spine and I would have been paralysed. I was told I was very lucky

[The sense of helplessness ate away at the patient, who chose not to relay news of his accident to his parents] There were a lot of things happening at that time. I was thinking about my career as a footballer, and people were telling me no one had come back to play at the top level from this kind of injury. It makes you think. But my dad was very sick. When I visited him [during rehabilitation late last year] and saw how he was, and I only had a broken leg, it showed I could not just give up [Souaré Sr died in December]

[Palace’s players and management did their best to support their stricken team‑mate. Scott Dann and Damien Delaney were among the first to visit him in his hospital bed] They were shocked when they saw me because my face was very swollen. To see someone who they had been playing with one day, and then like this the next … it is crazy, but I want to thank them because they supported me all along. They lifted me, and I had a lot of messages from the fans

The injury had been in a very sensitive place, and I had to work hard to build up the muscle again. It was never comfortable, and you can feel your leg is weak and there’s not enough muscle on it. It was very difficult. When you don’t know what will happen in the end, it’s hard. I didn’t know when the pain would stop or how my legs would be. When you’re hurt and wonder if you’re going to play football again, you have to be worried. But I didn’t want to give up. [The medical staff] said if I did the work, everything would be fine, so I trusted them and did what they asked

My family don’t put any pressure on me, but I put pressure on myself. When you are from Africa and want to be a football player, the only thing you think about is making your family proud and to try to help them financially. These are the most important things. I only know football, so I’d work at the training ground, doing the bike in the morning, then having treatment, then the gym in the afternoon to try and gain some muscle in my leg. It was hard emotionally, too, because my family are back in Senegal. That’s why I said the fans and the club, all the staff, were so incredible for me. I’d go on Twitter and see people sending me messages, saying they missed me and to keep going. That’s what I’ve done. It’s like they were trying to do everything so there was still something for me in England. They were there for me

[Five months after the surgery, Souaré could run on the treadmill. Six weeks later, under the watchful eye of physios, strength and fitness coaches and the club doctor, he was jogging out on to the training pitch again] The first time I went outside my team-mates were all out clapping to welcome me back. When they saw me coming to join them for a full training session, they were even happier

[Did they dare tackle him?] I was the one trying to tackle everyone else. That’s me

[His mother, currently in Mecca, has recovered herself and watched her son’s return from afar] I just wish my dad could be here to see I am back. He really cared how I would be in the future, with my leg. Now he’s not here to see. But I think where he is, he will be, like: ‘Yes, he’s fine now’