Nydam on injury, retirement, his Town career and life after football
- Credit: Steve Waller
Tristan Nydam is looking to the future.
The former Ipswich Town midfielder, aged just 22, announced his retirement on Sunday night after admitting defeat following a two-and-a-half-year injury battle.
He made the difficult decision to end his career in January, but you have to go all the way back to a friendly at Notts County in July 2019, to find the moment his promising journey came to a sudden stop.
The broken ankle he suffered that night was the beginning of a rough ride which ultimately ended in heartbreak.
He’s coming to terms with it.
“I feel better now,” Nydam said.
“I made the decision in January and the weeks leading up to that are tough but you get over it. The decision was in my control but the injury wasn’t. We tried everything for two-and-a-half years with three operations and countless hours of physio with different specialists.
- 1 School apologises for GCSE paper error as it falls to inadequate
- 2 £1.5million project set to turn north Essex towns into giant gaming areas
- 3 'We are both in love' - Ed Sheeran announces birth of second daughter
- 4 'It makes you want to cry' - anger as bench dumped in pond at country park
- 5 Man identified after dog walker threatened in Sudbury
- 6 Girl, 12, injured after having foot run over by driver
- 7 My Suffolk Life: ‘We had to move to Suffolk to be together’
- 8 Revealed: The wealthiest people in East Anglia on the Sunday Times Rich List
- 9 Woman injured after car flips on its roof near Ipswich
- 10 Colchester gets city status - fuelling disappointment over no Ipswich bid
“After I was released in the summer the club were great and gave me a contract until January, which nobody really knew about, to try and get fit. I’d had a hamstring injury as well and another surgery and I’d got fit again. But my ankle was never right.
“In training I could still feel it and I just wasn’t the same player. I had to make the decision in January. We tried everything and I had to make the call. I had to think about my future because I didn’t want to wake up in 10 years’ time and not be able to walk.
“The doctors thought it was best and said I couldn’t play professional football. I can have a normal life, I can run or play six-a-side or something like that, but just not professional football.
“After I eventually made the decision, things became a bit easier. Then, after I told everyone with my announcement, it hit me a little bit more because all of the messages coming in. They were so nice and touching but it did make me think about it more.
“You get over these things, though and you have to move forward with life.”
Nydam’s had to come to terms with a lot over the last two years. First on that list was the night of his injury, following Dion Kelly-Evans' tackle at Meadow Lane.
“I remember it all pretty well,” he said.
“I was playing left-back and we had a throw-in. I’ve thrown it to either Ems (Emyr Huws) or Corrie (Ndaba) and then received the ball back, passed it inside and then – bang. My ankle was facing the wrong way.
“I don’t remember the pain or anything but I can remember going off the pitch, going to hospital and then everything else about that night. I’d broken my ankle and suffered ligament damage.
“I don’t blame the player (Kelly-Evans). I think he was a trialist at the time and was trying to impress. But I’m not sure if it was against a league club that a tackle like that would have been put in, because it’s pre-season.
“If it was a league game there might have been more scrutiny on the tackle but I don’t blame anyone. It’s football and he was trying to impress. There’s no blame there.
“People fly into tackles all the time. These things happen but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you. But it does.”
Challenges presented themselves on a regular basis as he looked to battle his way back to full fitness, from an injury which originally came with a six-month timespan for recovery.
Progress wasn’t as quick as expected and further surgery followed and, after a handful of games in Town’s Under 23s, Nydam’s Ipswich return ultimately came in April of 2021, nearly two years after suffering his injury.
Paul Cook gave Nydam half-an-hour at the end of Town’s game with MK Dons, with the midfielder’s display the highlight of a drab 0-0 draw.
Things weren’t right, though.
“It was great to have their trust and the backing that I could come back and play,” Nydam said.
“People said I looked the same in the game but I didn’t feel the same. I couldn’t stop, my ankles were sore. It felt heavy and tight. Even in training I’d have to do things I used to be able to do in one step in little ones, just to compensate.
“But it was good to make one more appearance at Portman Road.
“I suffered a hamstring injury in training a week or two later and that was linked to my ankle. There was more surgery to come, too.
“I wasn’t thinking about retirement at this point and hoped more time would help. I think I have a positive mentality and if something isn’t in my control, there’s no point getting angry.
“It’s hard to take but you have to move forward and better your mind.”
Nydam was one of the army of Ipswich players released by Cook in the summer of 2021 but he remained with the club, rehabbing his hamstring injury and then working his way to fitness before ultimately deciding retirement was the only option.
It’s during that time he crossed paths with Kieran McKenna, the current Town boss and a man who was also forced to hang up his boots at 22, before ultimately turning to coaching.
“I’ve spoken to Kieran McKenna at Ipswich and he’s a really nice guy,” Nydam said. “He was in the same position as me and look at where he is now.
“The club have been great with me and have said I can come in and shadow some coaches. I’m speaking to them about that.
“I’ve been doing some coaching with a company in Colchester for the last three weeks and I’ve quite enjoyed that, doing some one-on-ones and shadowing coaches there.
“Coaching isn’t something I have really been looking to do until now, so it is a route I could look to go down. I’ve also been looking at maybe studying at uni or something. Probably something in sport or maybe property development. Something like that.
“I’ve never known to have any other job or a different way of life. I’ve never been to college, uni or anything else. Even at school it was football, football, football for me.
“So it’s tough. I feel fine at the moment but it might hit me a few months down the line when people are going back for pre-season and I’m not. It might be hard to deal with finding a new job but, right now, I’m fine.
“We’ll see how I am in a few months.
“I’ve got so many people around me who are there to help me. I’m very lucky.”
Nydam’s career was short and sweet. It only lasted 22 matches in an Ipswich shirt, but he achieved something so many could only dream of.
“I expected more from myself and had dreams of playing in the Premier League, but I really enjoyed myself,” Nydam said, reflecting on his short career in which the bulk of his appearances came under Mick McCarthy.
“The sport has given me everything. It’s everything people dream of. Once I’d made my debut I knew I wanted to keep going and progressing.
“Unfortunately football doesn’t always go the way you want it. But you have to keep working, pushing hard and do your stuff on the pitch and in the gym.
“My short football career was something I’m really proud of. I achieved my dream. I played for my boyhood club I was with since I was nine and I played for England. So many highs.
“The lows were very long lows but the highs were so much higher.
“I’ve made some brilliant friends and have had the fans’ support all of the way.
“I’m very grateful.”