Forfar defender Darren Whyte is slowly making his return to football, more than a year after a serious injury ruled him out of the entire 2020/21 season and saw him living off sick pay for months.
On October 13 2020, Whyte jumped for a header in a League Cup clash against Hibs.
Upon landing, he knew straight away something was wrong. The 24-year old was found to have ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
After 446 days, he finally returned to the pitch on January 2, 2022.
Long road back
His recovery was long and torturous, made worse by restrictions imposed to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
Not only was it physically demanding, but the recovery also took its toll on his mental health.
Unable to carry out his day job as a plumber due to his knee, Whyte was stuck at home for months trying to get by on statutory sick pay.
“It’s still fresh in my mind, unfortunately,” he told Courier Sport. “An injury like that will always be there.
“It has been a really difficult time, especially with the pandemic.
“I was off my work for a good six to seven months on sick pay.
“That was really tough in itself, but the simple things are taken away from you after the operation; you’re stuck in the house staring at four walls.”
The former St Mirren centre-back had hoped to return to action at the start of the season, but the pandemic delayed his comeback as he was unable to attend in-person appointments due to restrictions.
By comparison, Liverpool ace Virgil van Dijk suffered a very similar injury around the same time as the Loons defender – but their recovery times were very different.
“It was difficult to get treatment, especially the first couple of months on Zoom calls before I could get up to see the physio,” he explained.
“Van Dijk came back in nine months. They’ve got top class physios looking at them every day, even through the pandemic.
“Being a part-time player it’s a bit more difficult to recover from an injury like that.”
Whyte is full of praise for his club who he said could not have done more to help him back playing.
In May last year, while still deep in his recovery, Forfar extended his contract for another year as it neared its end.
For securing his future for another year and helping him back on the road to recovery, he’ll be forever grateful.
“The club has done absolutely everything for me,” he said.
“They managed to get the operation privately really quickly, within a couple of months.
“If it was through the NHS, I think I’d still be waiting with the pandemic.
“They sorted everything and that’s a massive credit to them.”
Return to action
Whyte made his long-awaited return to competitive action by playing 25 minutes of Forfar’s New Year clash with Elgin.
The appearance was made even more special as it marked 100 games for the Loons.
Whyte had hoped that milestone would come a lot sooner, but now looks to make up for lost time and rack up more appearances.
67’ A great moment as Darren Whyte makes his long awaited return from injury. He replaces Steven Anderson who was on a shoogly peg after an early booking.
— Forfar Athletic (@ForfarAthletic) January 2, 2022
“When I did my knee, I checked how many appearances I was on because I wasn’t too sure,” he said.
“I was on the 99 and I was gutted about that. I was thinking it’s sod’s law that I’d done this injury so close before my 100th appearance.
“As soon as I made my appearance, I was saying to my family it was my 100th game.
“It was a great achievement to reach that milestone and hopefully there are a lot more to come.”