Monday, March 24, 2008

CATCHING UP WITH CORY


U.S. fans were certainly pleasantly surprised to see the name Cory Gibbs on Bob Bradley's roster for Poland, the agile defender having been sidelined for more than 18 months through a collection of injuries. We last saw Cory just prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where a knee injury meant an agonizing departure from the U.S. squad. Now fit and hungry, Gibbs talked with ussoccer.com about the long road traveled.

ussoccer.com: First things first. It's great to see you back.

Cory Gibbs: "Honestly, this feels like getting called in for the first time. I'm really, really excited. It's great to back with the boys and reunite with people I haven't seen in so long. I can't wait to get started."

ussoccer.com: With all of the setbacks over the last 18 months, does getting called back in feel like a weight off your shoulders?

Cory: "When you wait so long for something, when you get there it's a huge relief. It's come at a good time for me in terms of my fitness level. I'm just thankful to Bob for calling in more than anything else. I want to show him what I can do. At the same time, I know it's only a starting point. My goal is to stay healthy, keep training hard and do what's asked of me."

ussoccer.com: Essentially you've been out of action for the last 18 months with a series of injury after injury. Not to take a bad trip down memory lane, but take us through the history.

Cory: "It started with the knee injury that kept me out of the 2006 World Cup. I came back in November, and in my first reserve game with Charlton I did the same knee again. That kept me out the rest of the season. I came back fit for the preseason in the summer of 2007, but in the second training game I did the MCL in the other knee, which set me back another eight weeks. I returned to training in mid-October, and just before I was ready to join the first team I got hurt in a reserve game. I got stomped on by my own player, and broke three metatarsals in my left foot! That injury cost me another three months. I've certainly spent more time off the field than on it, but I've been going full speed for a while and finally feel like I've turned the corner."

ussoccer.com: With all of those setbacks, is there a part of you that just feels snake-bitten?

Cory: "At first, all I was saying to myself was 'Why me? Why again?' But I always feel that God does thing for a reason, so I don't ask questions anymore. It's not why anymore, it's how do I get back. There's been so many people who have helped me along the way, particularly [U.S. Soccer trainer] Jim Hashimoto. He's been with me through it all."

ussoccer.com: Since you've been back healthy, you've played 90 minutes in four reserve games. Have you felt any apprehension either physically or mentally about trying not to get hurt again?

Cory: "I really don't think about it. I don't avoid tackles or try not to go in hard. I'm just going full speed and playing as hard as I can. I don't know how to do it any other way."

ussoccer.com: So much has changed since you were last with the national team. Have you been able to follow the progress of the team?

Cory: "I've followed all the games, either on t.v. or online, and I have spoken with a lot of veteran players to see how things are going with the new leadership. Playing for the national team has always been my dream, so I try to stay as up to date as possible. So far, I think we've done well. There has been a couple bloopers, but overall we've had success and need to keep building off of it."

ussoccer.com: With the great schedule of games coming up and World Cup qualifying right around the corner, what are your goals for the next couple months in terms of working your way back in to the fold?

Cory: "To be honest, the first call up is just about playing my best and showing Bob what I am capable of, whether I get playing time against Poland or not. I'll go back to Charlton and try to crack the first team and get some games in. Ultimately, my goal is to get called into the England game and go from there."

ussoccer.com: It's been a long and difficult road for you these last 18 months. How has this experience changed you?

Cory: "While I know I wasn't in any control of my injuries, I have learned to maintain my body in a better way. Mentally, I haven't changed much. I never get too high or too low. For a year and a half things have been low, but I'm on the way back. I won't forget what it's taken me to get here."

4 comments:

New Found Madness said...

Welcome back Cory!

Aaron said...

Welcome back, Cory. Great to see you back in the squad. Go get 'em!

shannon said...

its nice to see gibbs back, i was really upset when he got injured and had to pull out of the world cup, everybody was looking forward to see him against the likes of italy and we're all thrilled he's back!

Jonathan said...

My wish was granted by ussoccer.com - The bloggers must have read my comment asking for an update on Cory :-)

Seriously, Cory, it is awesome to see you back. We need you badly on the left side or in the middle. With all the adversity you've faced it must be inspiring to the team to have you back as well.