ON-LOAN York City striker Alex Rodman is drawing on 15-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams for inspiration as he continues his comeback from a life-threatening blood clot on the lung.
Rodman, 25, missed the second half of last season with parent club Aldershot after he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism – the same condition that struck down American ace Williams.
She went on to reach the US Open final later that year and completed a Wimbledon and Olympic double this summer before clinching her fourth US Open title in September.
Rodman is now looking to relaunch his career with the Minstermen after claiming only his second goal following his long lay-off during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Port Vale.
The former England ‘C’ international said: “Serena Williams had it and she’s come back and won championships so I’ve taken a lot of heart from people at the top of their sports coming back and being successful having had the same thing.
“Lisa Dobriskey also got one and was running in the Olympics for Great Britain in the 1,500 metres a couple of months later.
“It’s a really serious condition and I’m just glad to put it behind me and get back on the scoresheet. I want to kick on now.”
Rodman first realised he might have a problem with his health when he suffered chest pains during a fitness test prior to a Shots game last season.
He then coughed up blood a few days later and, after initial hospital scans had given him the all clear, a blood clot was eventually diagnosed following a visit to a specialist recommended by the club doctor.
The ex-Grantham striker was prescribed blood-thinning drug Warfarin. meaning he could not train or perform contact sports as any bang to the head could have proven fatal due to the potential for internal bleeding.
Pulled muscles would have also taken longer to heal and Sutton Coldfield-born Rodman admits his recovery has been as much psychological as physical.
He now harbours an even stronger determination to enjoy a successful career, saying: “It all came completely out of the blue and all the specialists have put it down to an absolute freak.
“It took a lot of time to get my head around things because I was in such good health and did not feel ill but, hopefully, I’ve become a stronger person after it and I will have learned a lot from my time out. It makes you more appreciative of what you have got and everything that goes with being a professional footballer.
“I’ve taken a lot of positives from a negative situation.”
Having struggled with niggling pre-season injuries at Aldershot following his terminated second half of the previous campaign, Rodman found himself in and out of the team at the Recreation Ground during the first three months of this season.
He welcomed the opportunity to team up again with his former Tamworth boss Gary Mills and is not ruling out a full-time switch to City.
“Things weren’t going very well at Aldershot,” Rodman admitted. “The manager Dean Holdsworth was keen for me to get some games and, when Gary came in for me, I jumped at the chance because I know what he’s about and got on really well with him at Tamworth.
“It could be with the view to a permanent move because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it from the first moment I came here. The football we play is superb.”
Rodman, who bagged seven goals in 43 League Two outings for the Shots, is now hoping to add to his City account after getting off the mark at Port Vale.
“The gaffer brought me in to score so I was buzzing after doing that on Saturday,” he said. “When I’m fully fit, I’ll hopefully get a few more and, if we are a bit more clinical, we will get the points our performances deserve.
“We dominated for large periods and, if we had come away with three points, they couldn’t have complained. There were massive spells in both halves when we had so much pressure but, after being 2-0 down, it’s always good to come back and get a draw.”
• FOR the chance to pit your wits against York City’s players, a quiz night will be held tomorrow night as part of the David McGurk benefit season.
McGurk will be part of a team that includes Michael Ingham, Paddy McLaughlin and Matty Blair at the Pitchside Bar-hosted event, which will begin at 7.30pm.
Entry is £10 for a team of four with everybody welcome and there will also be a trophy and medals for the winning team.