On Monday, Ellen White announced her retirement from football. The decision was somewhat surprising from the 33-year-old Manchester City striker who had just won the European championship with England. At least, it was surprising until she detailed to BBC a harrowing experience with a punctured lung suffered during acupuncture treatment last year.
White retired as England’s all-time leading scorer (52 goals) and a three-time England Women’s Player of the Year. She won two FA WSL titles with Arsenal plus three FA Women’s Cup trophies (two with Arsenal, one with Man City).
After playing for Great Britain at the 2020 Olympics last summer (White is also Great Britain’s leading scorer), White returned to Manchester with back spasms. According to the BBC Sports article, Man City set her up with an external acupuncturist to help her recovery. What happened next was an uncommon but not unheard of injury.
Ellen White Lung Puncture
Acupuncture is a practice based on ancient Chinese medicine in which small needles are used to stimulate certain points on the body to treat various ailments. The science is still out on how effective it is compared to modern medicine, but it’s generally regarded as safe.
There are, however, rare instances of injury from misplaced needles. In the worst case scenario, a lung might be punctured.
This is what happened to Ellen White last August.
“It punctured my lung, which isn’t something that happens normally, obviously,” White said to the BBC. “It was a really traumatic time for me and something that I’m still figuring out now, still working through.”
White said one of her lungs entirely deflated, leaving her short of breath and unable to train for a couple of weeks last season.
“I had to wait for the lung to basically inflate again,” she said. “I had a needle put into my chest to drag all the air out then hopefully the lung would inflate again — which it has. At the time, I think for me, I just got into a zone of: ‘I need to get back playing. We’ve got these games — I want to be back playing for my club; I want to be back playing for England.’”
White went on to say this traumatic experience helped lead to her decision to retire after Euro 2022, something she said she had made up her mind to do even before the Three Lionesses won it for the first time.
“Obviously, there are other factors that come into that as well,” White said. “I don’t want it to happen to anybody else again is my main thing. I don’t want to walk away from the sport having not told it and not say that I want things in place for it not to happen to anyone else.”
Let’s hope no one else suffers such a horrific injury, but we’re glad White recovered quickly and was able to go out on her own terms.
Thank You Football… pic.twitter.com/WmeDGeX9zT— Ellen White (@ellsbells89) August 22, 2022