Matt Turner says he was “on the border of tears” after picking up a groin strain that ruled him out of Arsenal’s trip to PSV Eindhoven at the end of October.
The USA international was set to start the match against the Dutch side but picked up a groin problem on the morning of the match. He watched from the sidelines as the Gunners went down 2-0 and also missed the 1-0 win over FC Zurich at the Emirates, another match he would likely have played in.
Revealing that he would have played through a similar issue in the past, the 28-year-old said he opted to listen to his body for fear of exacerbating the problem.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he told The Athletic.
“I actually was like on the border of tears. I know that sounds a bit soft, but I’ve never had to do that before.
“I’ve never had to really listen to my body and feel like maybe it wasn’t the right move to push through something, because I’ve pushed through many injuries in my career, many little nicks that might have held someone else out, that’s never been my M.O.
“So to go against everything that was ingrained in me and look out for myself was challenging, and that can be hard in professional sports.
When Turner signed for Arsenal he promised to push Aaron Ramsdale as much as he could on the training ground while knowing opportunities between the sticks could be limited. Missing such a high-profile match – the Gunners’ most tricky in the Europa League – made his absence at the Phillips Stadion all the harder.
“I know that my opportunities are few and far between on the pitch,” he said.
“Also, the way that the game was building up, against PSV away, it was a game that I felt like I could have gotten out there and done very well.
“It was a game that would have played to some of my strengths: shot stopping, defensive actions. I knew that it was an opportunity for me to show myself, and that was part of the reason it was so hard for me to go out there and say that I couldn’t go.”
In the end, Ramsdale ‘deputised’ and made a real hash of his first-ever European performance, flapping at a corner as Luke de Jong sealed the victory for the home side.
All’s well that ends well. Arsenal recovered to secure top spot in the group and Turner is back to full fitness and ready to face England, Wales and Iran in the World Cup.
“100 percent, no limitations, smashing balls again, all good,” he said.