Dubai: There are moments in sport when you have to take a step back and remember these are athletes putting everything on the line to achieve a result for their team, their fans and, of course, themselves.
There are moments when the result doesn’t matter.
Sadly, on Sunday night, we witnessed one of those moments when Everton’s Andre Gomes crumpled to the ground after a seemingly innocuous challenge from Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min.
The Portugal star dislocated and broke his ankle in the freak injury.
Spurs were winning 1-0 at the time and looking good to consolidate their place in the top four of the Premier League. But within seconds, the game was forgotten. All anyone and everyone was thinking about was the welfare of Gomes.
The midfielder appeared to roll his ankle after the challenge by Son, but it was clear to see he was in some distress — not play-acting alike a certain Brazilian resident of Paris and looking for a cheap free-kick.
I have never seen someone care less about the red card he received as a visibly distraught Son was sent from the field.
After being told he had to go by an apologetic referee Martin Atkinson, the South Korean rushed straight up the tunnel in tears, urgently awaiting news on the welfare of his fellow professional.
It was Gomes’ momentum that caused him to crash into Serge Aurier and incur the gruesome injury. Aurier himself was seen to offer a prayer of hope to his stricken colleague as he was comforted by goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Everton were losing 1-0 at the time and went on to make their numeric advantage count to equalise through a Cenk Tosun strike in the lengthiest of injury time.
A fitting riposte and a deserved point in the bank for the Merseysiders, with all and sundry in blue dedicating the goal to Gomes. But is was a day to forget the result and turn full attention to Gomes’ health.
An ambulance was brought trackside to take him straight to hospital and undergo surgery on his ankle.
Manager Marco Silva was the first to get behind the 26-year-old and backed him to make a full recovery.
“We will give all support to Andre and his family,” Silva said. “As a group we have to stay together. He is seriously injured but I am 100 per cent sure Andre will become stronger as a football player and as a man because he is a fantastic lad, a fantastic professional.”
Son was called up for international duty in the wake of the game and South Korea coach Paulo Bento insists his players will rally around him after his involvement in the incident that injured Gomes.
“What happened in that match is really unfortunate,” Bento said. “It doesn’t matter which country a player is from. You never want to see anyone get hurt that seriously, but it’s also part of the game.
“Heung-min has to pick things up and move forward, and we’ll try to help him the best we can.”
The history books will show a 1-1 draw and shared points. But this is a game that will long be remembered where compassion overcame adversity and humanity put sport on the back-burner.