Liverpool Ladies: Danielle Gibbons 'proud' of comeback after tumour
Liverpool Ladies goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons says she is proud of her comeback following the removal of a benign brain tumour.
The 23-year-old missed five months of the season following surgery, which left her deaf in one ear.
However, she returned to first-team football in time to play three matches before the end of Liverpool's campaign, wearing a protective helmet.
"I wasn't going to let anything stop me playing again," Gibbons told BBC Sport.
"There wasn't one point when I thought I wouldn't get back.
"If I couldn't have played for Liverpool again, then I was determined to play in the Olympics for the deaf team or something like that."
Gibbons was 20 when she was initially diagnosed with the non-cancerous tumour called acoustic neuroma in 2013 and initially kept it from her team-mates as she did not want to be treated differently.
"I eventually told them at the beginning of this year and to be honest, that was harder than telling my parents," she said.
"I didn't really expect them to be as upset as some of them were, which was nice in a way because it showed that they cared."
To remove the tumour, surgeons had to cut through her balance and hearing nerve, which has left her completely deaf in her left ear, and the recovery was long and slow.
"At the beginning it was really basic, I just had to walk around the pitch turning cones over, which took me a really long time," she said.
"It was really tedious and boring but you have to start with the basics.
"Even now I have to do a lot of standing on one leg with my eyes closed because my balance still isn't recovered."
After returning to training, Gibbons set herself the initial target of making the match-day bench before the end of the season.
However, after first-choice keeper Libby Stout sustained a shoulder injury, she found herself called into action for Liverpool's final two league matches and their Champions League game away to Brescia.
"I was incredibly nervous and I was physically shaking before the game, which has never happened before," she added.
"But I was really excited to get playing again and proud to have overcome everything and then to get the chance to play in the Champions League was incredible."