Failed eye test? That one I didn see comin
FOR a bloke often lauded for his vision and a war e n e s s , George Boyd was pretty shocked to be told he couldn’t see. It was just gone 9pm on transfer deadline day when the 27-yearold striker sat down for a video conference which, he thought, would rubber stamp his move from Peterborough to Nottingham Forest.
Instead, he was forced to listen in disbelief as Forest officials explained that he had failed an eye test and the deal was off.
“Your head is all over the place,” he says. “The club had booked me a hotel and I had the family up. I was due to train the very next morning because Forest had a game against Birmingham. Then bang – they pulled the plug.
“The really disappointing thing was that it happened so late. I had other offers but I couldn’t do anything about it because there was no time.
“The manager at Forest, Alex McLeish, just kept apologising. He tried to get me on loan straightaway but after what happened I was never going to do that. No chance.
“In the end, I just wanted to get out of there, get back to playing football and take my mind off it. So I rang the gaffer at Posh (Darren Ferguson) and said I’d come straight back and train the next morning.”
The incident – up there with Peter Odemwingie’s mad dash to QPR for deadline day absurdity – was to prove the catalyst for a momentous sequence of events, less butterfly effect, more Alpine avalanche.
Within days, Forest manager McLeish had resigned, convinced that the eye test fiasco was a ruse cooked up by the club’s Kuwaiti owners who didn’t fancy Boyd.
Former manager Billy Davies returned to the City Ground and sent Forest soaring. And Boyd, after a brief return to London Road, joined promotion-chasing Hull City where his touch and skill fit hand-in-glove with Steve Bruce’s pass-masters.
Mind you, the opticians of East Riding clearly aren’t as ‘thorough’ as their counterparts in Nottingham…
“I’ve had a medical at Hull,” says Boyd.“And yeah, I’ve had an eye test too. I went to the eye specialist they use and he did every test under the sun.
“There was nothing wrong with it, which is obviously very strange. I don’t know – draw your own conclusions. I think its fair to say that Alex wanted me and the chairman didn’t. But everything happens for a reason and I’ve come out of it better off.”
Released by Charlton at 16, Boyd has always done things the hard way. Five years in NonLeague with Stevenage were followed by a Conference-record £260,000 move to Peterborough, where his attacking partnership with Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean saw Posh rocket from League Two to the Championship.
Yet while McLean sealed a £1m move to Hull in December 2010 and Mackail-Smith joined Brighton for a club record £2.5m six months later, Boyd – unquestionably the most talented of the trio – was left on the shelf.Wasn’t that a source of frustration?
“No, I never envied them,” he insists.“They’re both good mates and I was pleased for them. The truth is, I was happy at Peterborough.
“I was playing good football, I was a regular in the team. And me and Darren (Ferguson) got on so well over the years. I knew exact- ly what he wanted and he knew the way I liked to play. Our football philosophy was exactly the same. I was never unhappy, but I was getting to an age where I had to move on.
“That was the sole reason I’d decided I wasn’t going to sign a new contract at Peterborough. I thought it was time to go and test myself at a higher level.
“I’m 27 now and it reached a point where you think: ‘It has to be now’. The next few years will probably be the best of my career so this was a hugely important move.
“It’s not about getting money, it’s about finding a club that will suit the way you play and make the most of the those years. That’s why Hull was perfect.”
Boyd scored within 40 seconds on his home debut and now has four in six for his new side. Despite a damaging 1-0 defeat to promotion rivals Watford in midweek, the Tigers went into the weekend a point clear of the Hornets in second and the striker says manager Steve Bruce is helping to keep the pressure off.
“It was brilliant to hear Steve Bruce say he wanted me,” added Boyd. “He’s a guy who’s won everything at the highest level, played with some amazing players.
“His record speaks for itself so when someone like that wants you at his club, it’s a massive confidence boost. “He’s a very laid-back guy and I think his main strength is making players relaxed and confident. He basically just says:‘Go out and do what you do best’. I thin such good f
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