Lisbie all smiles after the bad times

SCORING against Plymouth helped Kevin Lisbie put a smile on many faces - and that is just how the striker likes to play his football.

Derek Davis

SCORING against Plymouth helped Kevin Lisbie put a smile on many faces - and that is just how the striker likes to play his football.

After a medical scare that left him in intensive care with surgery that affected his face so badly even his mum didn't recognise him, Lisbie literally enjoys each game as it comes.

In May 2005 - like Terry Butcher who was caught in the face by a boot in the FA Cup tie against Luton in January 1982 - Lisbie had a nose that would not stop bleeding.

Charlton tried everything to help Lisbie, but when he had to come off against Chelsea and the claret continued to flow, he had to have a scan.

Lisbie was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumour in his nose and, as it is with most people who get similar news, it was a huge wake up call.

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He said: “It was the scariest time of my life.

“They lifted my face up, literally, and then sorted out the tumour, stitched it up and put my face back.

“I suppose you could almost call it a facelift.

“I looked completely different. It was scary. My mum came into the hospital to see me and walked right past me.

“She asked the doctors where I was, she just didn't recognise me. I always had a good laugh with the lads at Charlton.

“We were all very close and there was always banter flying around.

“They came to see me but they didn't give me any stick, which I would have expected. I think it was because they were worried about me.

“I had the same thing happen to me in the street later, my friends just walked by me because they didn't recognise me. I looked like a completely different person.”

Lisbie's apparent laid back attitude can be misconstrued but the 30-year-old striker insists he cares very much about playing for Ipswich and scoring.

Lisbie told the official club programme: “The tumour knocked me back a long way and it also changed the way I looked at things.

“It changed me as a person, no question. It changed my outlook forever. It made me realise that football is not the be all and end all of life.

“It's a wonderful job to have and I appreciate it, but there are a lot more things out there far worse than losing a football match.

“The tumour and all that followed is something that I will never forget and, like I said, it made me appreciate what I have.

“I heard on the radio the other day that someone said that it looked like I was sulking when I came on. Well if that person knew me, they would know that is not true. I always try and play with a smile on my face.”

After being on the bench for a few games Lisbie started against Plymouth, and just as he predicted he would before the match, scored.

Lisbie said: “I know I'm lucky to be able to play football. I love the game, even when things are not going so well. I want to win as badly as anyone else here.

“I am just as determined to help this club do well and I'm as disappointed as any other player if I am not in the side.

“I've been on the bench a few times lately, but whereas before I would go around sulking at training and at home and then knock on the manager's door to have a moan, I don't do that any more.

“I even spoke to the gaffer here and explained that to him, that it's not that I don't care as much as the next player. It's just I have a different perspective on life now. I just go out to enjoy my football as much as I can.

“The gaffer knows I will train as hard as everyone else. He knows I want to play, but I know my chance will come, like it did at Plymouth on Saturday and I have to take it when it does.”

With 17 goals for Colchester United last season, three in the two games against Charlton, Lisbie is looking for a fifth against his old club tonight, although won't rub it in if he scores.

He said: “The Charlton supporters did give me a good reception when I went back there with Ipswich.

“Last season was my first time back there since I left and I scored two goals for Colchester at The Valley, but I gave the fans as much respect as I could.

“That showed when I went back there this year. I think they remembered that.”

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