Glenn: It's Back To Work

Glenn Roeder says he is "amazed" at how fit he feels just three weeks after brain surgery, and is "looking to pick up the pace," but admits that relegation was "galling."

Glenn, already working from home as he convalesces, says: "It is three weeks since I had the brain tumour removed and I am just so amazed how good I feel. The human body really is a miracle, how it can recover from a brain operation.

"For the past four or five days I have felt very strong. Admittedly in the first week after the operation wasn't particularly a good week because, as you could imagine, I didn't feel particularly strong and I didn't want to see anybody.

"There was a reasonable amount of pain coming from the area where I had the operation but the tablets have cleared that up and in almost a week now I have felt really good.

"I am just pleased there are people in this world, like Mr. Afshar the neurosurgeon who did the operation, and Dr. Gawler the neurologist, that can make these things happen.

"They can save lives, which is what they are doing every day. What they do is miracle work, and I will never be able to thank them enough.

"The same goes for all the nurses, both male and female, that have looked after me, because in all over the past six weeks I have spent the best part of 18 days in hospital and the treatment I had in the London hospital, where I was for 12 days, and at the London clinic, was brilliant.

"I have had the good news now that the tumour was low grade and benign and we don't expect there to be any problems with it recurring.

"I am looking forward to seeing the surgeon next Tuesday and I am hoping he will be telling me that I can pick up the pace of life a little bit.

"I have had to take things very slowly, and, being me and fairly impatient, I have wanted to do a lot more than I have been allowed to."

As to whether, in the worrying weeks since his collapse after the Middlesbrough game, he ever considered giving up his job, he insists: "That is a very easy question to answer - it never crossed mind, ever.

"I have been asked that by all sorts of people, about whether I thought it was worth the trouble, but the thought of not going on has never crossed my mind.

"There is a lot of unfinished work for me and the players to do this season so as far as I am concerned the thought of not carrying on has never been an option.

"Both the surgeon and the neurologist feel the tumour was not caused by the job and once I am allowed to have a full recovery, which they feel is vitally important, there is no reason not to return to the job."

He is disappointed at continued reports that he had a stroke, and adds: "I remember the day, right up to the point of blacking out in my office, and I have got to get across that I did not have a stroke of any kind.

"It is important that people realise, even though it is still being reported even this week, that I did not have a stroke - I want people to know the truth.

"I passed out because of the brain tumour and there is no evidence whatsoever that I suffered a minor stroke - that is completely different from blacking out with the tumour which they eventually found."

Many observers felt that Glenn, unusually for him, spent most of the game on the bench rather than in his customary standing position in the technical area, but he says: "I didn't feel unwell on the day and I can't really answer why I spent more time on the bench than I normally do - but I probably did, I remember that."

Typically, his thoughts about that day are as much about the three points as the win, and he adds: "The win was very important after losing a game we shouldn't have lost, 1-0 at Bolton, and even their winning goal, a 25-yard chance, was hardly a clear cut one from Okocha.

"I can clearly remember young Defoe having a marvellous chance to tie the game which would have made a huge difference, but there we are, it wasn't to be.

"The way the boys bounced back against Boro was a great effort though and we deserved to win the game, and I felt fine during it.

"People have mentioned that late on in the press conference I got muddled up once with Lee Bowyer's injury but I think it is wrong to say the whole press conference was muddled, because it wasn't.

"It was just that one slip and if you listen to interviews all through the season there are plenty of managers who make more mistakes than I did that day."

Could, though, the illness have been in any way stress-related, as has been claimed time and time again?

"I don't feel it is," he insists, "and the neurologist told me he was confident that it is not stress-related why the tumour grew.

"Most of the money that is spent on a cure in these things is exactly that, spent on the cures. They are not absolutely certain why these tumours occur, but they don't think it is lifestyle or diet-related and they don't think it is hereditary.

"They don't know why it occurs in one person and not another."

Neither, he feels, could it be a football-related problem going back to his playing days.

"I am not going down that road. People have mentioned that as a centre back I would have had headed the ball plenty of times and maybe that caused it but I would like to think that is not the cause," he says.

"I wasn't scared at all. They allowed me after five days to wake up and on the Sunday we were playing Manchester City I had all my faculties - and I was very aware of what was going on," he adds.

As if the subsequent relegation wasn't enough, Glenn had to then endure surgery when the season ended, and he recalls: "The day of the operation three weeks ago I walked down the corridor, got onto the bed, and was taken to the theatre.

"I have got to say I wasn't nervous in the least about having the operation - in fact I was almost willing it to be got on with.

"I remember the anaesthetic being put in just after 6 o'clock on Friday night and then waking up and it was done. I don't know if everyone would be like that, but that is me and that is how I am - I am a realist, there was no going back, the operation had to be done so why be fearful?

"I was looking forward to it being done because I had so much confidence in Mr. Afshar that he would be able to do the job that he told me he could - and he has done it."

Glenn is also full of praise for the club doctors, one of whom, Ges Steinbergs, was on the scene immediately.

"There are no better doctors than Ges Steinbergs and Sean Howlett anywhere in the country. First of all they are brilliant human beings, both have been fantastic, and their knowledge is quite unbelievable in all aspects of medicine and treatment," he says.

"It is fortunate that Ges was still at the ground but I am also told that Roger Cross and Ludek Miklosko also acted very calmly and that Ges knew exactly what to do.

"Having now seen the work of the doctors and nurses I was in fantastic hands but I think, more than me suffering, my wife has suffered more than anybody.

"It has been hard for the children, though I have been pleasantly surprised about the mental strength and maturity my daughter, who is 18, has shown. It has been tough for my two boys who are only 14 and 8, and my wife, Faith, has been through hell and back for those five days that I was asleep when I had tubes in my nose, down my throat, and all sorts of lines in both arms.

"The concern was that the lung had collapsed during those five days because of a germ getting into the lungs and she was made very aware during those five days that I was critically ill.

"I knew nothing about it because I was asleep, but I don't think it is right at all to say I stopped breathing in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

"I was in great hands, and believe me - though I wouldn't wish anyone going to hospital - the care and professionalism of our nurses in this country is second to none.

"These people are doing 12 hour shifts and the attention to detail is first class, and if I can help them in any way with fund raising I will be only too willing to be at the head of the queue.

"I can't praise the people in the two hospitals enough."

As for his memories of actually collapsing, he says: "I was told I kept coming round and was telling everyone I was okay when clearly I wasn't, but that is me, I never like to make too much fuss.

"I am clear about everything until I passed out and my first memory after that is waking up on the Sunday we played Manchester City, drifting in and out of sleep, then having the very good news at the time that we had won 1-0 with a very late goal."

That Glenn's first real memory after regaining consciousness after nearly a week was connected to football might surprise some, but he says: "That is how it is. If that is how you feel about football it is very hard to get it out of your system.

"For people who have been in football, and you have to be careful how you use the word, football does become a drug and you need it."

As for the football, and the last three games with Trevor Brooking in temporary charge, he says: "First of all, in the last three games, Trevor did a terrific job to keep the ship steady. We were on an excellent run at the time anyway and it would have been very easy for the players, because of what happened to me, to have not carried on in that rich vein of form.

"It is all credit to Trevor and the players, but the hugely disappointing thing is that in the last 14 games we took 25 points, and we did that simply because we had everybody fit.

"That is the key to anyone's success. Having, first of all, players good enough, and keeping all your players fit.

"Once we got Ferdinand into the club, and Kanoute became fit, and everyone else was fit so there was pressure on places or you wouldn't play in the next game, in those games we have taken 25 points.

"At the start of any season that would have you in the top three, and from I am told from Christmas onwards we were sixth in the Premiership on form.

"That is why it is so galling and disappointing to have gone down with a record number of points, and no more can managers say at the start of the season that the previous totals are enough to keep you up.

"36 or 37 points in any other season is the number of points that the third from bottom goes down, and we achieved six more points, and in a freak year, we have been caught out.

"But we have obviously been caught in the first half of the season where we have had an injury to Kanoute so we didn't have that big physical striker that we needed to play with either Defoe or Di Canio.

"As we know, Di Canio got injured and then we have had to put Ian Pearce, a lovely, honest lad and a really good professional that I enjoy working with, up front after he volunteered.

"He will be the first to admit his position is a centre half but we have played him for 10 games or more as a striker - and no other club in the Premiership had to do that.

"It was asking all too much and the proof of it is that when everyone was fit we more than showed that we were capable of picking up points.

"But it seemed to be Sod's Law this year that whatever we did wasn't going to have the result that we so desired.

"42 points should have, and in the previous 10 seasons, would have, kept you up and we would have said 'disappointing season but we can gather for next year' and hopefully got back to where we were in my first season, which was 53 points and seventh place.

"But it is not to be, I am not going to carry on talking about it, because that is all negative now - we know what the outcome was and we now can only look forward to being extremely positive and attacking the first division in the manner that we attacked the last half of the season - and hope we have the good fortune of keeping everybody fit."