Crystal Palace defender Amy Goddard has been recovering from a shock Bell’s palsy diagnosis, but remains positive for the future as she returns to the matchday squad after over a month out of action.
The 22-year-old centre-half admitted that although the cause of her condition is unknown, she has found working full-time alongside playing stressful, and is now prioritising finding a balance between work and football.
In an exclusive Next Gen Sport press conference, Goddard said “The commitment is full on. If it was a male speaking in my position right now, they wouldn’t have my problem, they would just be able to play football and not have to work on the side.”
Up until her diagnosis, Goddard worked full-time as an insulation manager, as like most players in the FA Women’s Championship, playing for her club is not enough to provide a sufficient income.
“For financial reasons and everything within the women’s game, we take on a lot of stress by juggling work and part-time football,” Goddard said. “Everyone that lives that lifestyle is going to say the same thing.”
When Goddard started displaying symptoms, she originally put it down to being fatigued.
She explained “I was on FaceTime to my grandparents when I noticed that I kept smiling on one side of my face. I just thought I was tired, as I had just done a training session and a full day of work.
“I woke up the morning after and the left-hand side of my face had completely dropped.
“Automatically, the hospital thought it was a stroke, but after scans and tests they confirmed it was Bell’s palsy. It was very scary.”
Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes temporary weakness or paralysis of muscles in the face. It can occur at any age and is not something that can be prevented. Goddard has had a month off work and football, and described the experience as being ‘mentally, very difficult’.
The Palace defender said “Support from the players and staff has helped me massively.
“Mentally it’s been hard, but with the bunch of girls we’ve got they have been very supportive and helped me along my journey.”
Goddard is now working to get back to 100% match fitness, but also stressed that she will be certain to make sure her welfare is paramount.
She added “My fitness isn’t 100% there, but I’m getting there and I’m getting stronger as the weeks go by.
“Getting back into the right mindset is definitely the biggest priority on my list.”
After a successful spell at Yeovil Town during their time in the FA Women’s Super League, Goddard joined Crystal Palace in the
summer of 2019, and featured in every game of the 2019/2020 campaign.
Reflecting on her time at the club, Goddard said “I love it here, playing every week is what I want to be doing.
“The squad we have this year is exciting and we’re going to go far.”
Goddard was named in the matchday line-up for last Sunday’s clash with Leicester City, although the defender was an unused substitute. The League leaders took all three points as they secured a narrow 1-0 win against Palace at Farley Way.
Despite the loss, Goddard was impressed with the performance “The result we achieved at Leicester was a massive improvement from when we played them earlier in the season,” the defender said. “A 1-0 defeat to one of the top
teams in the Championship (Leicester City) isn’t a bad score, and we’re going into the Liverpool game on a positive note.”
Article author: Anna Minter