Emley AFC striker Joe Jagger thought he’d never play football again after breaking his leg in two places back in February. Now the 32-year-old striker is hoping to make a return to the pitch next season. 

Jagger went down in what was an innocuous-looking challenge during a game at Barton Town. He was in agony and the seriousness of the injury was obvious straightaway.

Medical teams from both clubs attended the player before he was taken to hospital in Hull by ambulance. Jagger was told at the time he would likely be out for 12 months and with that news the prolific striker thought his career was over.

At the time he was Emley’s – and the Northern Counties East League Premier Division’s – top scorer with 31 goals.

Recalling the moment he suffered the injury the Emley Supporters’ Player of the Year, said: “I remember laying there at the time in so much pain.

“I kept telling my teammates that it was probably the end of my career. I was very upset at the time and couldn’t think straight.

“The consultant at Hull told me I’d be out for 12 months. I just thought I was finished and there was no way back. 

“For the first few months I couldn’t move. I just sat in the same place all day. I have to thank my partner because she really looked after me and made sure I was OK.”

Joe Jagger gave the thumbs-up from his hospital bed

Jagger is a PE teacher and that has aided his recovery, helping his leg get stronger.

He said: “It is still very sore when I get home from work but I’ve been able to do more as time goes by. I’m hoping to be able to start kicking a ball again in two to three months and, if I do make that recovery time, it will be fantastic. 

“However I do know I’m very impatient and so I have to be realistic as well. It was a bad injury and these things take time. My bones have to fuse together properly.” 

Jagger has been able to take comfort from fellow player and captain James Knowles who suffered a similar injury a few years ago.

“James has been very supportive,” said Jagger. “He had a similar injury a few years back and so knows how much it can hurt and how mentally tough it can be to come back from.

“He has a metal rod in his leg now and says he feels as strong as ever with it in. Hopefully I’ll feel like that when I get back playing.

“Whenever I have had good or bad news he’s been there for me and I can’t thank him enough for that. He says I am in front of where he was recovery wise which is a good thing.”

Joe Jagger in action. Image by Mm10_sports_photo

Jagger had stated before how happy he is at Emley, but those feelings have been strengthened through the support he’s had. 

“Everyone at the club has been great – the chairman, the staff and the supporters who have done some fundraising on my behalf which is amazing,” he said. “I can’t thank everyone enough for the support they have shown. 

“Going to games last season and having to watch wasn’t easy. I thought the boys did great and I wished I was on the pitch to help them. No one thought we’d be so close to promotion. 

“It hurts how we failed to achieve that but we are all proud of what we did do and winning the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Cup too was great.

“The lads involved me in the celebrations after the final which was terrific, they acknowledged the part I played which was really nice.

“I am determined now to get back playing, I’ve already bought some new boots. I’ll be having a chat with Richard Tracey (Emley manager) in a few weeks to give him an update.

“I know they might have to bring someone in while I’m out but in a way that will make me more determined to get back because of the competition. 

“I think next season many teams will see us as the favourites for promotion which will make it tough but I am confident as a group we can achieve what we want.”