David Brooks on Wales return after healing Hodgkin lymphoma: ‘I don’t just want to be a spare part’

by | Jun 14, 2023 | Global Football News | 0 comments


David Brooks signed a new four-year Bournemouth deal last August and says he must be chosen for Wales on merit; Rob Page admits side must sharpen their attacking play for games against Armenia and Turkey after collecting four points from their opening two Euro 2024 qualifiers in March

Wales midfielder David Brooks is back playing

Wales midfielder David Brooks is back playing

David Brooks does not want to be picked on sentiment following his return to the Wales stage.

Brooks is back in the Wales squad for Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier at home to Armenia – the first time he has featured for the Dragons since October 2021 when he was diagnosed with stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 25-year-old winger announced he was cancer-free in May last year and returned to club action for Bournemouth in March, starting the Cherries’ final two Premier League games.

Brooks signed a new four-year Bournemouth deal last August and says he must be chosen for Wales on merit.

“I was out of contract this year before I signed my new one,” Brooks said.

“Even before talks had kicked in, I wanted to make it clear I wasn’t there for sympathy.

“I don’t want to be there if I’m not going to play or wasn’t in the plans.

“Once they saw me training and how I was determined to get back to, I did earn what I was given.

“It’s the same with Wales. I don’t just want to be called up to be a spare part. I’m working hard to get back in the Bournemouth XI and be starting for Wales as well.”

Brooks underwent chemotherapy treatment following his cancer diagnosis, the draining effects of which he has said left him with night sweats, weight loss and struggling to climb the stairs.

Now he is close to peak playing condition – “I probably need to change a bit of the fat to muscle” – and says that returning to the Wales camp where he was diagnosed was a “very nice feeling”.

Brooks said: “The first step after the treatment was to get back into the Bournemouth dressing room and be part of that.

“As soon as that was completed, to get back in the Wales set up was the aim. The lads have welcomed me with open arms.”

On meeting up with Wales’ chief medical officer, Jonathan Houghton, who detected that Brooks’ had cancer symptoms, Brooks said: “I do owe him a lot, he’s obviously done a lot for us. It’s always nice to see him.

“Whenever my mum and dad see him they burst out crying and give him a big hug. I can’t thank him enough.

“Getting that awful news drops and crushes your world, at that moment you hope it will get better and go back to normal at some point.”

‘I still want to try and get to the very top’

Brooks won the last of his 21 Wales caps against Denmark at the delayed 2020 European Championship in June 2021.

His perspective on life might have changed in that time, with Brooks saying “he did not have a single care about football” when he was diagnosed “as I just wanted to still be on Earth”.

But Brooks said: “I just love playing football and so as soon as I got the diagnosis, that was snatched away in the blink of an eye.

“But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t end up playing football. Football is not life or death, the main thing is being happy and healthy.

“My ambitions haven’t changed. I still want to try and get to the very top.

“The hunger and drive is the same for all the lads. We all have the same goal of reaching the Euros, the World Cup – that’s what everyone wants to play in.

“There’s a lot of new faces, people I’ve not met prior to this camp, and a lot of new staff.

“But the brief time I’ve worked with them over the past week, we’re all pushing in the same direction and trying to achieve the same goal.”

Page: Mullin must prove himself in EFL

Rob Page says Wrexham striker Paul Mullin will be considered for Wales selection if he scores regularly in League Two.

Liverpool-born Mullin qualifies for the Dragons through his Welsh-born grandmother and has said he would love to represent Wales on the international stage.

The 28-year-old has scored 78 goals in two seasons at Wrexham – helping the club owned by Hollywood actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds back into the English Football League – and won the 2022-23 FA Cup Golden Ball as the competition’s top scorer.

Mullin’s eligibility has been a big talking point among Wales supporters with many keen to see him given a senior call, but manager Page was reluctant to select someone plying his trade in the fifth tier of English football.

“Forget what he’s done up until now,” Page said ahead of Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Armenia in Cardiff.

“If he is playing in League Two and he’s scoring goals, then we will look at him and consider him. But there is a massive gap from where he’s been up to League Two.

“We will keep monitoring him and if he keeps scoring goals as he goes up the levels he’ll prove himself.”

Mullin has already shone in League Two and won the division’s Golden Boot with a 32-goal season in Cambridge’s 2020-21 promotion campaign.

He enhanced his reputation further in the FA Cup this term with nine goals, three of which came against Championship pair Coventry and Sheffield United.

Page said: “I watched him against Sheffield United and I was very impressed by him, just from a work rate point of view.

“I wouldn’t want to play against him, he’s a pain in the backside.

“Forget his goalscoring and his eye for goal, I like him because he’s a pain to play against. He’s like a rat, and I want that.”

Page welcomes selection headache

Page admits Wales need to sharpen their attacking play for games against Armenia and Turkey after collecting four points from their opening two Euro 2024 qualifiers in March.

Brennan Johnson and Brooks have returned to the squad after missing the 1-1 draw in Croatia and the 1-0 home win over Latvia.

“While I was happy with the Latvia performance and how we controlled the game, that final detail at the top of the pitch is where we need to improve,” Page said.

“Having Brennan back fit, and Daniel James, Harry Wilson and David available is only going to help us achieve that.

“With the personnel we’ve got we can have two or three different formations without any problem.

“The game plan might change within a game, but having players like Brennan will give us the opportunity to get higher up the pitch and score more goals.

“We’ve got some good players and the problem now is finding out how to get them all into the same team.”


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