Tarik Tissoudali does not want to skip steps in his rehabilitation process: “I will come back stronger than before”

From the stands, Tarik Tissoudali saw AA Gent gradually rise in the ranking: “Making play-off 1 has always been the ambition. Hopefully we can make that happen.” — © Belgian

At the end of July, Tarik Tissoudali tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Immediately, the affable Dutch Moroccan was able to make a cross about his World Cup chances and began a long and tough rehabilitation. Six months later, Tissoudali takes stock of the situation. “Doctor Declercq has done his job well and I will return stronger than before”, the Ghent crowd favorite insists.

Stefan Smet

“I am doing very well, thank you”, beams Tarik Tissoudali when he enters the Ghent press room. The Moroccan left winger has been working hard to return for almost six months after a cruciate ligament injury and is gradually seeing light at the end of the tunnel. “I am currently in the phase where I can dribble a lot with the ball and shoot in a targeted manner. Moreover, I can still pull sprints at almost one hundred percent,” Tissoudali reveals.

It typifies Tissoudali. This is also confirmed by his coach, Hein Vanhaezebrouck, who speaks to the press a little later. “Tarik is very careful and sometimes Matti, our head physiotherapist, has to push him. Matti does a fantastic job, working with him almost day in and day out, like a personal coach. And that in addition to his other work. Tarik will be incredibly grateful to him. You also see him evolving on the field, but that last step is the hardest. You have to overcome that barrier to dare to go back in: tackling and taking punches. You have to be able to turn that button.”

Ball feeling

For the time being, Tissoudali still has to gain volume and he must not skip any steps in his rehabilitation. “I do need to dose a bit more. The club supports me fantastically: the doctor, the physiotherapists, the psychologist and the nutritionist. My body fat is even lower now than when I did play. I still weigh the same, but have more muscle now. Doctor Declercq has done his job well and I will come back stronger than before”, Tissoudali sounds confident. “I now work week by week. You always have to wait and see if everything goes well. I was actually a bit afraid that it would go less smoothly in terms of ball feeling. My dribbles are still there”, the Amsterdammer winks.

Tissoudali does not yet dare to pronounce a timing, careful as he is. “I will probably be able to train partly with the group within this and two weeks. At the end of February we will play against Club Brugge. No idea if that works. We look at it week by week. The medical staff determines the schedule. I completely trust our head physiotherapist Matti. I listen to him. He knows how to treat me and also sends me messages when I’m home, like: take a rest.”

Little brother Salah

Meanwhile, Tissoudali is forced to follow the Buffalo’s games from the stands. AA Gent has been in the top four since last week and that is also a boost for their favorite dribbler. “In terms of results, the group is doing well. That’s nice. You want to play football as high as possible and compete for the prizes. Reaching play-off 1 has also always been the ambition. Hopefully we can make that happen.”

In addition, he is also increasingly emerging as a mentor to Ibrahim Salah, his young teammate who even addresses him as a big brother. “I have a good relationship with Ibrahim, on and off the field. He is a boy with a lot of potential. I see a guy with a lot of guts. He does need someone to keep a close eye on him, if you don’t, he sometimes dares to say or do something wrong. It was no different for me at that age,” Tissoudali concludes with a laugh.

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