April 19, 2024

A former Sunderland academy player has been commended for his mental strength as he recovers from two life-threatening injuries.

Patrick Almond, a former Sunderland defender, has been urged to ‘get back to where he was’ as he continues his recovery from two life-threatening brain injuries with Ebac Northern League team Whitley Bay.

The Wallsend Boys Club product progressed through the Black Cats academy system before making his senior debut in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United Under-23s in a Papa John’s Trophy fixture in October 2021. A loan spell at National League North Blyth Spartans during the second half of the same season provided Almond with his first taste of regular senior football before being released by Sunderland at the end of the season.

Almond was involved in a road traffic collision in Manchester at a critical juncture in his career, and there were severe concerns after he incurred life-threatening injuries. However, the teenage defender recovered and resumed his career with Shildon before signing a dual-registration agreement with National League North team Darlington. Almond was brought to the hospital with a suspected concussion during an FA Trophy match against Southend United before being diagnosed with a brain bleed.

Almond has battled his way back to health following another arduous and systematic recuperation, and has resumed his career with Whitley Bay after joining the four-time FA Vase champions in November. Tentative steps have been taken, with the recent spate of postponements resulting in Almond making only five games for his new club – but his improvement and quality are all too visible. Nicky Gray’s team battled their way to a 1-0 home win against Carlisle City on Friday night, maintaining their pursuit for a play-off berth in the Northern League’s top flight.

 

Newcastle United star's classy £1k donation to injured ex-Sunderland man Patrick  Almond

 

Gray, a former Sunderland academy coach, acknowledged that his club is fortunate to have acquired a player of such caliber and credited Almond’s approach with helping him continue his playing career.

“No disrespect to Whitley Bay, but Paddy is better than this level,” he told The Echo. We are extremely fortunate to have him. He’s gone through a lot, so we’ve left it up to him to decide how things will play out. He’s a fantastic young man, and I wish him the best of luck in the future. I believe he’ll go on to great things in his career because it says a lot about him that he wants to keep playing after everything he’s been through.

“A lot of people would not do that.” He is with us, and he is regaining his footing and confidence. I believe and hope he will stay until the end of the season, after which we will see what happens. I just want everything to go as smoothly as possible for him because he deserves it.”

Although it is still early in Almond’s recovery from two serious injuries that threatened not only his career, but also his life, Gray is confident the defender will continue on a positive path and return to a high level in the coming months. “He can get back to where he was,” Gray explained when asked how far Almond could travel.

“At the very least, he can get back into the National League North.” He breezes through games, without breaking a sweat since he knows how to read the game so effectively. He and I both realize that there are minor things he can improve on. It’s terrific to see him back on the pitch and enjoying himself, and I believe this is the start of a really bright period in his career.”

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