BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Having spent the past seven months recovering from his long-term injury, Selangor forward Rufino Segovia is now nearing the end of his recovery process well ahead of the 2020 season.
The 34-year old Spaniard was playing for the Red Giants in their March 10 Super League match against Klang Valley rivals Kuala Lumpur, when he had to be taken off in the 30th minute.
What was initially diagnosed to be an injury that would sideline him for three or four months, later turned out to be a more serious left Achilles tendon tear, which required a longer recuperation, and for his place on the roster to be replaced by Nigerian forward Ifedayo Olusegun in the mid-season transfer window.
"It was a sad and difficult time for me. At first I didn't know what type of injury it was, but it turned out to be my Achilles tendon.
"I've been injured before, and I've had to rest for three or four weeks, but nothing this long. In 2017 (first season with Selangor) I was once out for two weeks while in 2018 I had no injury. I'm just unlucky this year I guess.
"After the surgery I needed time to heal, to work on the flexibility and strength again. It takes time because it's one of the biggest muscles in the body," he explained when met by Goal last Friday.
The striker credited the club for being behind him throughout his recovery process, even going as far as initially hiding the truth in order to keep his spirits up.
"I think they may have done it (give a shorter projected recovery time) to avoid making me sad," revealed Rufino. "I was put through a surgery within two days and they continued supporting me. I'm very happy to be at a club like this.
"They've provided me with everything I need and I'm very grateful, and next season they deserve the best from me."
The 2018 Super League top-scorer also is delighted that he is recovering towards the end of the current season, which has given him ample time to work on his fitness ahead of the 2020 season.
"Some players need one year to recover from this injury, but I've recovered early. Now I want to put it behind me and focus on the following season. It's good that I get to return to training now, to allow me to work on my confidence before coming back in December (for the 2020 pre-season). I feel good now because there's no more pain, and I'm excited to be able to rejoin the team.
"I'm lucky to have played with good players throughout my career, and to be surrounded by intelligent characters. They've taught me how to motivate myself and retain my confidence. I knew that when I was injured, I would start to be forgotten and many would start losing their confidence in me. They'd think 'He's 34, he can't recover from this type of injury.' I want to show to the doubters, again, that I'm the best," announced Rufino, who has one year left on his contract with the Red Giants.
Asked about his replacement Ifedayo, the Spaniard praised his impact at the club, and foresees combining well with the Nigerian if the former Felda United man's service is retained in 2020.
Ifedayo Olesegun. Photo by Sports Regime
"He came at a difficult time for Selangor, and proceeded to have a good season, scoring a lot of goals and doing a great job in general. He's a good player and if he stays at the club, I think we can combine very well. I can play as the striker and he as the winger, or he can play as the striker and I as the number 10 or a winger.
"I know we have a lot of good players now, the foreign players have improved a lot and it will be hard for the club to decide who they want to retain for the next season," remarked the former Atletico Madrid trainee.
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