At just 21 years of age, John Iredale has already overcome a career's-worth of setbacks. The Wolfsburg striker was in sensational form with 10 goals in his first 13 games for the second team, before being derailed by two serious foot injuries, then the outbreak of COVID-19.
“It was meant to be a 4-5 month injury, I was ready to play at the back end of last season, then coronavirus hit and the leagues were cancelled.” The emerging Australian striker said.
Iredale says rather than feeling sorry for himself, he's become more determined than ever to realise his dreams of first team football at the Bundesliga giant.
“It was tough to take, there were lots of opportunities coming up with Wolfsburg and the national team. but I knew I could come back strong again, and I feel stronger and hungrier coming back,” h said. “My goal is to play before Christmas with the second team, get back to full fitness scoring goals then to crack the first team after the Christmas break. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
The hard work continues!👊🏼⏳ pic.twitter.com/WptyZsPM0I— John Iredale (@iredale_john9) August 7, 2020
Iredale’s road to recovery was tumultuous, even after completing his rehab, the former Heerenveen player was still experiencing pain, much to the bewilderment of his specialists.
“Because of this break, my foot wasn’t strong enough to take the loads we put on it in pre-season straight away so I was having problems with it.
“I saw a couple of specialists and nobody could explain why I was feeling pain. Mentally this was tough because they’re saying everything is fine but I’m still having pain.”
Disheartened but determined, Iredale sought treatment from a Chiropractor, and he’s now back to playing and training pain free.
“When I first saw the chiropractor, the first thing he said was, ‘this foot looks like it has been run over by a truck'.”
The 21 year-old has flourished since returning, scoring a goal and assist in a 30 minute cameo against St Pauli’s reserve side in a pre-season friendly.
On Sunday (AEST), Iredale started in Wolfsburg II's first competitive match of the season, firing his side ahead after just seven minutes in a 3-0 win over Hildesheim.
With the Australian goal machine back on the pitch, Wolfsburg has assured Iredale of a bright future at the Volkswagen Arena.
“Right now, we both agreed the priority is just to focus on playing games again," he said. "Get back to full fitness, score goals.”
“I’m the first choice striker for the second team, they just want me to get back playing, score goals and the opportunities will come”
“They want to make sure I’m ready physically and mentally before I make that step up [to the first team], because of course it’s a big jump, but I know I’ll be ready when it comes.”
Th biggest teams in the Bundesliga have shown their willingness to take a punt on a promising youngster. Take Alphonso Davies, who has emerged as one of the world’s best defenders at Bayern Munich, or Bayer Leverkusen prodigy Kai Havertz who joined Chelsea for a club record $A164 million.
Iredale knows the opportunities are there for young talent to flourish in Germany, and the explosive striker knows that all starts with establishing himself in Wolfsburg’s first team.
“It shows Germany is a strong league it’s a strong country for football and it allows younger players to really show what they’ve got.”
“It’s nice to see that when you break into the first team squad there are lots of clubs who give young players a chance.”