The aim of this qualitative study was to understand the psychological barriers that athletes returning to soccer (football) following anterior cruciate ligament knee reconstruction surgery faced and how they negotiated these barriers. Thematic analysis was used analyse online, open-ended survey data within the framework of self-determination theory. Two themes of ‘Fear of Re-injury' and ‘Self-Help’ respectively represented what barriers athletes faced when returning to soccer and how they were reportedly managed. Novel findings included identifying connections between athlete demographics, individual circumstances, perceived psychological barriers and needs, and their self-derived mental strategy. It also highlighted the need for athletes, coaches, and sports personnel to be educated and trained on the benefits of sports psychology during the return to sport phase, particularly when injuries occur at the local, recreational, non-professional levels of soccer.