Bristol City star Chloe Bull’s inspirational journey from battling a benign tumour to her first goal for City

Bristol City’s newest goal scorer has a story that can inspire anyone who may feel down on their luck.

<p>Chloe Bull has so far made two senior appearances for the Robins.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)</p>

Chloe Bull has so far made two senior appearances for the Robins. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It was a perfect day for Bristol City Women on Sunday as they thrashed Sheffield United 5-1 in the FA Women’s Championship.

The Robins recorded their third league win of the season in style with Aimee Palmer scoring a brace alongside goals from Abi Harrison and Melissa Johnson.

Another name amongst the scores was Chloe, Bull, a new name to the club, who scored her first goal in the colours of her new club since moving from Cardiff Met.

Commenting after her goal, she said to the official club website, “It’s great to be here, training nearly every day with the players and the staff.

“The staff behind the scenes have been great and offer fantastic support, but hopefully I can now kick on and get minutes under my belt.

“We want teams to come here and enjoy playing on our home pitch. If we continue to play to our strengths, we’ll keep winning.”

Chloe Bull was at Cardiff Met before joining Bristol City Women. (Pic by Lewis Mitchell/FAW)

This wasn’t just any goal for one of Lauren Smith’s summer recruits however, this was a first goal in professional football for Bull, who has had a difficult journey to get to where she is today.

Three years ago whilst playing for Cardiff City Ladies, she had persistent pain when she played and trained, which forced her to put her footballing career on hold.

It wasn’t until further examination after going for a CT scan that it was revealed that she had a benign tumour on her spine.

The extent of the tumour revealed that it was growing and it was dangerous as it was right next to her spinal cord, which could have had a devastating effect.

An operation was organised and Bull went under the knife, but there were complications of the five-hour surgery and as a result, a slow period of recovery was to follow.

Explaining her experience, she said: “I went to see my doctor and at the time I wasn’t in any pain because I only had pain when I was exercising or playing football.

“I never had pain if it was a normal day and I was just walking around, I was fine.

“I went to see him and he said we have found something in your spine. Unfortunately we can’t tell you what it is because we don’t know. He said to me you have to think of the worst. It was very, very scary.”

One of the questions that was asked prior to her visit to the hospital was whether she would play football again, in which she was given a timeline of six months. Football wasn’t a priority for her at this point though and instead health was top of the agenda.

“I slowly started getting back to it. Even walking was really painful, for me at the time football was totally out of the picture.

“I thought football wasn’t a priority for me at the moment and that the most important thing is that my health was okay and that I’d be able to walk without pain.”

A season had passed with Bull not playing any football, however she was still involved in the sport, as she worked with age-grade teams in her role at the Football Association of Wales Trust.

Sharing her experiences with both boys and girls at a young level, she was able to prepare them for competitive matches.

Time went on and then eventually she found herself wondering of her next steps after the COVID-19 pandemic had affected everyone. The lockdown has both success and sad stories but for the Bristol City midfielder, she used the time she had whilst furloughed to improve her health and physical wellbeing.

The first step was just beginning to run, starting slowly before reaching an incredible goal of 10,000, which helped put her on the right track.

“The pain was in my head and I needed to get through it,” she stated.

“There was a time that I wasn’t going to get back into football and It wasn’t the end of the world. Football is a hobby for me and something I love doing but it was making sure my health was okay.

“I always wanted to get back into football. It wasn’t because of my physical health, it was more for my mental health. It’s about being around teammates, when you’re going to training and playing games, there is no better feeling than that.”

Welshwoman Lauren Smith gave Bull her first chance in professional football. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

As lockdown eased, she made a return to the game after three years out. She was welcomed back to Cardiff Met, first undergoing a pre-season schedule before putting pen-to-paper on a deal for the season.

It proved to be a wise decision as she made a successful return to action, putting herself in the spotlight. The 26-year-old, embroiled in a title race, finished as the leagues top scorer, scoring 15 goals in the 16 games that season.

Her performances caught the eye of Lauren Smith, who was beginning a rebuild at Bristol City following relegation from the Women’s Super League.

“I was playing at Cardiff Met last season and that finished in May,” she said to Sgorio, before the start of the campaign.

“In June, Lauren Smith gave me a call and said would you like to join and be part of the team on a full-time basis? It was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.”

Given where she was at one point in her career, to where she is now, it highlights her comeback spirit, something which was needed in the Bristol City dressing room.

"It was a difficult period in my time, but I never imagined that I’d be a professional footballer from that.

“It goes to show that if you work hard for anything, you’ll be able to get it."