Huntil last Sunday, the last game he had refereed Benjamin Jimenez dated from October 7, 2019. Was a Fuenlabrada-Students. He had annoyances that had already made him stop for a while, but that day he could hardly support his foot. As if it were a sports star, he went to see Mikel Sanchez, prestigious doctor whose operations center is in Vitoria. He proposed a preventive treatment, since the referee suffered a bone edema in the calcaneus. In February, when he was close to returning for the Copa del Rey disputed in Malaga heard a snap warming up before a workout. Achilles tendon ruptured. If it had been hard before, the next 19 months were going to be a nightmare from which he finally escaped last Sunday when he directed the Real Madrid-Inherit San Pablo Burgos.
There are people who invest in a house or in the stock market, I did it in my tendon
Because the complicated rehabilitation of a fracture in the Achilles was added COVID and a relapse. “That was the worst. You assume you have to be unemployed for six months, but start over from scratch … “, He says. Due to the pandemic, the first operation was on May 21. At two and a half months, when he could start to walk a little, he saw that his foot was bruised. An MRI was done on August 5: the tendon had split elsewhere.
Life changed completely. He had to leave his native Cádiz to move to Vitoria and be closer to doctors and physical therapists. “We are not millionaires and this has cost us a lot. There are people who invest in a house or in the stock market, I did it in my tendon “, assures Jiménez. His wife spent the first two months with him until he was able to fend for himself. Afterwards, he was alone.
From Monday to Thursday I went to the hospital and to rehabilitation. On Friday he crossed Spain to go home and early Monday, up again. “943. The kilometers from the door of my house to the apartment in Vitoria. That figure I will never forget. My car is one year old and has already been more than 40,000 kilometers and that sometimes I went by train or plane,” he says.
I thought about leaving the arbitration. I was content with going back to normal life. To me walking already seemed like a triumph
In so many months stopped, there have been moments of darkness, like when they gave him the diagnosis of the second break. “I thought about leaving the arbitration. I would dedicate myself to something else, a small business that I have or whatever. I was content with going back to normal life. Walking already seemed like a triumph to me “, be honest. But they cheered him on from everywhere. First, a physio: “He told me that Santi Cazorla he was playing soccer after having had three inches of tendon removed and I had only had five inches removed. “
Support from all Spanish basketball
Then, from all levels of Spanish basketball. From his colleagues to the president of the ACB, Antonio Martín, through many players and coaches, with whom he ‘fights’ in matches: “They have shown me that Spanish basketball is a family. We work together and sometimes we have our things, but in the end we are people who feel, laugh and cry “.
During this long process, Jiménez has been working with young referees, He has made training plans, he has taken care of his diet with a nutritionist … “I wanted to be well for the reappearance, that with 45 years it is noticed to return after the inactivity”, affirms. He’s also seen a lot of basketball, of course. And without judging their peers. For his return, he decided that he would try to “enjoy what I do more. Stuck in the routine, you don’t realize it, but you have to value those moments that you miss when you don’t have them. We are lucky.”
They have shown me that Spanish basketball is a family. We work together and sometimes we have our things, but in the end we are people who feel, laugh and cry
On Sunday, 713 days later, the ordeal ended and he returned to refereeing. “I am very happy. I had whistled two pre-season friendlies, but it was not the same,” says the referee, who you don’t feel any pain after a match for the first time in a long time. There are no indications to think that he will not be able to continue with his career, the one that began at La Salle school, when, at the age of 13, a basketball referee was needed for the School Games and there he appeared. “He hooked me and here I am. And thank goodness, because As a player, I would not have been an eighth of who I am as a referee “, ends.