WHILE a footballer’s lifestyle may seem carefree and a million miles from that of the ordinary man who files into Dean Court, some things in life simply don’t discriminate.
For all the privileges a modern-day player enjoys, from fast cars and a good living to adulation and a certain level of celebrity status, immunity from illness is not one of them.
Just ask Ryan Allsop, a man who had not enjoyed the best of fortunes during the last campaign as it was.
Having shot to prominence during Cherries’ promotion from League One, Rocky seemed set for his big chance in the Championship before being sent off at Leeds in October.
Loan goalkeeper Stephen Henderson came, saw and got injured before continued question marks over Allsop’s performances eventually saw Lee Camp drafted in.
But if the Birmingham-born stopper thought he had been through the wringer that was nothing compared with what was to follow.
When a sore throat proved more persistent than it should have been, Allsop sought to double check an initial diagnosis of tonsillitis – it turned out to be glandular fever.
“I had been taking antibiotics for a couple of days but it was getting much worse, very quickly,” recalled Allsop.
“It got to the point where it hurt to drink and I couldn’t eat at all. The pain was so bad I could not sleep. When I was told it was glandular fever, it didn’t really hit me because I hadn’t realised the severity of it.
“The doctor said from that point I had to have complete rest, that I wasn’t allowed to do anything so I went back home to Birmingham for a week or so to try to get over it.
“I did some reading on the condition and found out it could cause swelling in the spleen. Any sort of knock could have been fatal and I certainly would never have played football again so I was literally sitting around in the house dwelling on things.
“That didn’t help because it never left my mind. It was the hardest part because I just wanted to do something about it but I couldn’t.”
It was to be the start of a painstaking recovery process that took the 21-year-old some eight weeks in which he lost over a stone in weight through his enforced lack of nutrition and activity.
He continued: “The most difficult part was right at the start, I lost all my weight and was really struggling. It was getting me down and really knocked me for six.
“I was told it could stretch on for months and my heart just sank. I was in the dark, constantly restless and it was a nightmare, mentally and physically.
“It was a slow process. Every week I was having blood tests to check my liver and kidneys but there was no major progress for eight or nine weeks.
“I went to see the physio (at Cherries) for a blood test after about six weeks and the lads said I looked like a completely different person.
“It all felt like a massive kick in the teeth because everything came at once but I knew I couldn’t feel sorry for myself.
“You have to look at the positives and, in a funny way, the illness did give me a bit of a break to gather everything and get my head back in the right place.
“I’m not saying the glandular fever was a good thing, but it gave me a good rest to think about things and since I came back I feel like I have pushed on and improved my game.
“There were times where I got frustrated and started snapping at my girlfriend, my parents and my brother but they were brilliant through it all and helped me in every way they could.
“They all played a massive part in me making a much quicker recovery than some. I spoke to people who still felt lethargic after a year so, in many ways, I have a lot to be grateful for.
“Part of that was down to my background and being generally fit but that support really does make all the difference when it gets you down. I was very lucky to have everyone around like that.”