Braithwaite recalls his illness as a child in a wheelchair: “I was ashamed to be different”

Martin Braithwaite, during a match

The life of Martin Braithwaite it was very close to being radically different if it had not been cured of the disease that suffered as a child. The Dane was affected by the Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome, which made it impossible to think that he would end up being not only a professional footballer, but simply a person who could walk normally.

Those years, when he was about 5, were very hard for him and his family. “I don’t remember much, but they were very sad days. You see the other children running, playing and laughing. It was a very difficult time in my life. I remember feeling, how to say, ashamed for being different. You don’t want that kind of attention“, he recalls in an interview with CNN.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes is a childhood disorder that occurs when blood circulation in the head of the femur is temporarily interrupted and the bone begins to necrotize and shed. Although with time and treatment, circulation recovers, poor rehabilitation can cause the bone to not regenerate with its spherical shape and causes pain and even paralysis on contact with the hip. Some of those affected have to live with a wheelchair by their side, even permanently.

So even though he was very young, Braithwaite took his recovery very seriously. “I wanted to be a footballer and I didn’t have ‘plan B'”he admits. Barcelona entered this plan, and without a doubt they did not see it coming.

Years later he had already carved out a humble sports career, until the day he received the call from his representative. “I was picking up my son from training, and my agent called and said that Barcelona were interested. He said they seemed very, very interested,” he recalls. So, in order not to arouse suspicion and avoid leaks, he kept secret from all negotiations, including his wife.

“I know that in football when there is interest, it means nothing. There is still a long way to go before you sign the papers,” he explains. “I’m not a guy who keeps secrets; I really am an open book. My wife would feel like something was up because hiding these phone calls“He remembers, and explained it to her … although his wife’s response shattered his surprise.” She just smiled and said, ‘I know what you’re going to tell me,’ “Braithwaite smiles.

His signing for Barcelona took place in the 2020 winter market, and although it started with minutes, the march of Ernesto Valverde it made him lose the prominence he expected. The pieces played in his favor and he was seen not only as a substitute, but as a more or less constant starter. At 29 years old, he is experiencing a sweet moment, which he did not even imagine when he saw his neighbors play football from his wheelchair.

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