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Rehabbing, recovery and renewed hope of a return to playing

First of all, this is NOT a retirement announcement.

I see this blog as an opportunity to connect with my incredible supporters and provide an update on where I stand currently. It's also a chance to let down my normal, very publicly positive wall.

The daily grind of rehab is brutal. I am constantly being tested, some days physically, some days mentally and some days both! By this point, I could wear the unenviable name tag of "professional gym rat" around my neck.

If you talk to the physical therapists I've worked with over the last couple years, James Hashimoto and Holly Silvers, they would vouch for the fact that I now consider myself quite the expert in the subject of injury recovery.

The latest ACL tear, which I suffered playing for Bolton's reserves in March, has been my biggest test to date. When something you love -- and have worked so incredibly hard for your entire life -- is repeatedly taken away from you, it's disheartening, devastating and (insert every synonym for sucks so bad).

People on the outside don't see the sweat, the frustration and, sometimes, the tears. The comments I read and hear are: "You're injured, you can't help the team, and you need to get back on the field."

If only it were that simple.

Not a day goes by where I'm not wishing I was out there, competing against the world's elite. It really hurts to watch my teammates run out on the field, score goals and celebrate in ecstasy. It cuts like a knife to know exactly what it would feel like to be in that moment and not be able to be a part of it.

If I close my eyes and imagine the favorite moment of my career -- scoring the winner for Bolton vs. Blackburn in a local derby -- it will forever give me chills. Just taking in the incredible moment, I can see the crowd going wild, my teammates jumping on top of me. I crave to feel that again and that desire is what drives me.

Rehabbing in a team environment is like being with your best friends at Disneyland but not being allowed to go on any of the rides. It sucks and it drains you. I love being a part of a team; in fact, I live for it.

But that is also exactly why I needed to get away and rehab elsewhere, because the injured lads are continuously cast aside and I couldn't bear to be left out any longer. With injury, mental strength is challenged more often than physical and will either make or break you from the inside out.

One of my greatest assets is my mental super-strength and I can honestly say that without it, I wouldn't be where or WHO I am today. I have an incredible support team: my family, my friends, my coaches, my peers and an amazingly strong fiancée, Karalyn, who lives and breathes every wave with me.

I maintain a positive outlook on life and always try to live it to the fullest. In my spare time, I've had the chance to open some new doors for my future when the time does come to retire. For example, I started a company called "Ready Set Med" a YouTube-based medical channel, with my surgeon, Dr. Bert Mandelbaum.

I've also had the opportunity to work as a TV soccer analyst. I am so thankful for these new experiences, and one day, they will make a great full-time role. However, I'm not ready to give up on soccer regardless of my injury woes.

I lie in bed and find myself asking: "Why?" Why do I put myself through this? Why does this continue to happen to me? As much as I could beat myself up with these questions, I force myself to push them aside and Just. Move. Forward.

I believe everything happens for a reason and, while I'm yet to figure out what it is, I know I'll get an answer one day. I continue to receive messages from fans and other injured athletes from around the world, who tell me my positive outlook and refusal to give up inspires them, but really it's the other way around.

They inspire me, they give me a reason to get through this and get back on the field and show them WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER!

With all that being said, I've decided to take it slow having come to the conclusion that I can be my own worst enemy. I work hard every single day but my body has gone through a lot of trauma and with each injury comes the need to be cautious and smart about rehab.

I know I can beat this and trust me, I wouldn't keep trying if I it wasn't possible. I've always told myself that, if I wake up in the morning and that drive and determination is gone, it's time to walk away.

Of course, I am constantly being asked about my future by fans, friends, teammates and coaches. My answer is: I need time. Time to heal, time to work hard, time to prepare, and time for a comeback of epic proportions. I will continue to tackle this challenge with great fortitude and I can't wait to prove to all of you, but mostly myself, that this is possible!

I thank all of my supporters for their continued inspiration and motivation, because without you I wouldn't be where I am.

Stay tuned, because this isn't over yet.

#noholdenback