BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Jayson Molumby has opened up about the injury which slowed his progression – and admits without medical advancements it could have left his career prospects in a very dark place.
The 20-year-old midfielder joined Millwall on loan from Brighton towards the end of July.
Molumby came through the Republic of Ireland youth ranks at the same time as Declan Rice. The pair battled it out for personal accolades.
“I was [FAI] U16 International Player of the Year in 2015,” said Molumby. “At U17s I was nominated and Declan won it. Then again at U19s and he won it again.
“He cleaned up and then left [pledging his international allegiance to England in February]. I wasn’t really happy when he decided to leave…I’m only messing! I know him well. His decision is his decision – whatever is right for him. I respect him and he is a great guy. We used to share a room when we went away with Ireland. We’d always have a bit of a laugh.”
Rice made his Premier League debut in May 2017. For Molumby, just shy of eight months his junior, a serious injury ruled him out for 15 months – only returning in February.
“I had just turned 18 and was kicking on a bit – playing first-team games [in the EFL Cup] for Brighton and I had a dislocation of my knee.
“It is called a knee subluxation – I literally had no ligament holding my knee in place at all. I had to get a hamstring ligament put in there to keep the knee locked in. It’s very stable.
“It is quite a new operation. If it had happened 10 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to get this operation – I’d just have to try and whack my quad up massively to make sure my knee doesn’t go anywhere. But I think it was past that stage, so I would’ve been in a bit of bother.”
Molumby points out the slight bulge to his right knee – which is the replacement ligament.
“It was probably just as bad as an ACL injury – because of the length of time I was out,” he said. “But with the ACL they have got such good research. With this surgery it is quite new.
“An ACL is an easier procedure because of the amount of studies they have done. It is always a risk but thankfully it is going well so far and I feel good.”
Molumby captained Ireland’s U21s in March.
“For that to happen in my first game back was huge for me,” he said. “Before that everything goes through your head – just doubts.
“You see others around you doing well and you know you were maybe above them, but now they are getting recognition. That’s extremely hard. You have to be mentally tough and have good people around you to get through it.”
Molumby was named as one of the top four players at this summer’s Toulon Tournament. Stephen Kenny’s side finished fourth after losing to Mexico on penalties in their semi-final. Molumby skippered them for four of their five fixtures.
His heat map for one of those seemed to be all over the pitch.
“For Ireland I played in an eight role and that is up and down, up and down,” he said. “It is a lot on the body. With Brighton I have played as a central defensive midfielder – ticking things over and breaking up play. I’m happy to do either, I feel I can do both – box-to-box or just sitting in.”
Molumby was playing for Railway Athletic – a local team in Waterford – before being selected to represent his county.
“I managed to get a game for Ireland U15s and the scouts came to those international friendlies,” he recalls. “There were a few clubs who wanted me to trial and I did that for about a year and a half. I went to Celtic, Villa, Birmingham, Blackburn and West Brom. But Brighton, with their location and plans they had for me, seemed a really good idea.
“The connection to Ireland was pretty big – Chris Hughton had coached for Ireland and the head of the academy was Irish, he’d worked for the FAI. It felt homely and welcoming.
“I would’ve liked to have got out on loan earlier but the injury stopped me. I’m 20 now and need to start getting first-team football under my belt.
“Millwall is a big club. I know about the fans and the atmosphere that can happen when everything is going, that’s what I’m about. I love that type of thing. They are passionate and being Irish I’m passionate too.
“Playing against Millwall can be intimidating, definitely, but the crowd will look after you and respect you if you give 100 per cent.”
If Molumby could start one away game this season, which one would it be?
“I don’t want to get too cheeky,” he said. “Charlton, we’ll say Charlton. I was going to say West Ham, but I don’t think that will happen.
“But Charlton will be a good derby, a good atmosphere. That will be a big game.”
PICTURE BY BRIAN TONKS