“If it stays inside, you get sad, and you never get to the point where you can make the next step,” he said. “You can be sad for a couple of days, and nobody will be angry with you. But for weeks and months? It does not help.”
He did not, though — not then, not during any of his injuries, not during any of the time that he lost — start to feel he was cursed. He never asked why this was happening to him, why he had so much snatched away from him, why fate seemed arranged that he would remain a what if, one of those players who never quite becomes — through no fault of his own — what he was supposed to be.
“It is human to think about what I have missed,” he said. “But if I regret too much, think about what I have lost, I lose focus on what I need to do. You cannot rewind. This is not a computer game that you can play again. All I can do is try to be better, to be luckier, next time.”
That is not the only change in perspective injury has afforded him. “You have a lot of time to think about other things, too,” he said. Over the eight months of his rehabilitation, Reus — by his own estimation — grew up. “You become aware of what you are doing, and what comes next, and when that will start,” he said.
He turns 30 in May. By that stage, if all goes well, he will have become a father for the first time. He is no longer young, even if he is not quite old. “I have three or four years left,” he said of his playing career. “That is still quite a period, but football goes fast.”
He has made no firm decisions on what he will do when his career ends — he would prefer not to go into senior management, but coach children, if he stays in soccer, because that is when “you should be having the most fun” — though he has a few ideas. He has not forgotten what it is to be footloose, carefree, but that does not mean he envies Sancho, Larsen and his other young teammates. He does not resent the clock for ticking.
“The injuries have taught me to enjoy the time I have on the field, the time I am training with the guys,” he said. “As you get older, you learn it will end at some point, and so you cherish the moments you are healthy.” Those young horses are lucky, he knows, to feel it will never end. But he would not trade places with them. When you know that time is limited, and time is precious, you appreciate it all the more.