On April 24, 2011, just over four months after he had led FC Dallas to an MLS Cup final and been named the 2010 MLS MVP, David Ferreira was the victim of a rough tackle from defender Jonathan Leathers that left him with a broken ankle and snapped the promise of the fledgling season.
In an exclusive interview with Goal.com U.S. Latino, Ferreira revealed much of the hardship he faced in his extensive recovery that required two surgeries on his ankle and has only just seen him return to training as Dallas prepares for its 2012 campaign.
"I have a great feeling," Ferreira said. "Obviously I'm not at 100 percent. There are some annoyances, but with the help of God and with work, that will leave. The idea is to think as little as possible about that."
After a banner year in 2010, the Colombian playmaker wanted to match that performance going into the 2011. He was the key figure in Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman's 4-1-4-1 system, the leader of a team that many tipped as a contender in the Western Conference.
"I was very excited and eager in 2011. We were in a variety of competitions and I wanted to go far with the team in all of them. I was in form and we were good," Ferreira recalled.
Instead, he went down just a month into the season. Though Dallas initially found success in spite of his injury, the team would eventually burn out sans its playmaker, falling at the first hurdle in the 2011 playoffs and crashing out of the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
"The hope left because of a foul, something that one doesn't hope for. It was hard," Ferreira admitted. "I have to leave that in the past, turn the page and dedicate myself to what I like, which is returning to play."
The 13-year career veteran admitted that the recovery process wasn't always easy.
"There were moments in which I thought of throwing in the towel and quitting the fight," he added. "It was very hard."
In the early stages of the 2012 preseason, Ferreira had seen very limited action in practice, being withheld from scrimmages and contact drills. On Wednesday, he was cleared by a doctor to return to full contact training.
"He went to one of our doctors and was assured that everything is fine with his ankle, and that there’s going to be some pain," manager Schellas Hyndman said. "It may never get back to the way it was, and he may just have to understand that the pain is going to be there."
Ferreira was elated to have returned to practice, especially caressing the ball with the instep of his cleat.
"It's very beautiful," he said. "Feeling the ball again is like being reborn. It's like I had just finished my first practice as a professional."
The playmaker also admitted that he was considering a special celebration should he return to the scoresheet, and that it wouldn't be his typical routine of sucking on a pacifier.
"Yes, I have already thought of the celebration if God gives me the opportunity to score a goal. It won't be with a pacifier," he said, keeping his cards close to his chest and not revealing his new choreograph.
Despite his injury, the 32-year-old was linked by Colombian daily El Pais with a return to his home country in the offseason, specifically to America de Cali, the club for which he made over 200 appearances between 2000 and 2005 and helped to three championships.
Despite admitting his love for the Colombian side, Ferreira denied the rumors linking him to America, which recently suffered its first-ever relegation (which Ferreira says "hurt" him), and emphasized his commitment to Dallas.
"It surprised me when I heard that news. I never talked with the coach of America nor with any of the directors," he explained. "I am a transparent man and I fulfill my contracts, so that would have been impossible anyway. But I was surprised that the possibility kept being talked about when I was never asked and I had denied it."
He was also effusive about his treatment by Dallas, adding, "FC Dallas has always given me its support. If the team had not been with me, maybe I would have thought about leaving, but with all this support I could not be more thankful and honest."
While there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome should Ferreira return to his imperious 2010 form, Ferreira remains unfazed and level-headed. He concluded: "I will be patient. I am not going to let anxiety get the better of me."
John E. Rojas contributed additional reporting to this article.