The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Craig Chis­nall

HULL cap­tain Robert Koren in­sists his team­mates who se­cured au­to­matic pro­mo­tion on the on the pitch on the fi­nal day of the sea­son had it easy – com­pared to him sit­ting in the stands!

The for­mer West Brom mid­fielder, one of the Tigers’ key per­form­ers this term with nine goals from mid­field, was cru­elly ruled out of the run-in by a calf strain picked up in the de­feat at Wolves.

In­ten­sive treat­ment al­most got the Slove­nian mid­fielder back in ac­tion for the cru­cial clash with cham­pi­ons Cardiff but he ag­gra­vated the in­jury in train­ing.

That meant Koren had to watch the dra­matic fi­nale as Steve Bruce’s men blew a late chance to seal a 3-1 lead and then con­ceded what could have turned out to be a cru­cial lev­eller.

Throw in a 15-minute de­lay at Wat­ford, who could have taken sec­ond spot with a win­ner against Leeds be­fore ul­ti­mately los­ing 2-1, and Koren ad­mits it wasn’t the way he en­vis­aged clinch­ing a hat­trick of Cham­pi­onship pro­mo­tions.

“I didn’t re­ally en­joy the last few weeks of the sea­son and cer­tainly not the fi­nal day – it’s been hor­ri­ble watch­ing,” said Koren.

“It was much eas­ier for the play­ers on the pitch than me! I had to keep an eye on the Wat­ford game as well and I was re­ally ner­vous.

“The first time I re­laxed all day was when we got the penalty to make it 3-1.

“It seemed sec­onds later it was 2-2 and most of us were hud­dled in front of a TV watch­ing Wat­ford.

“I say most of us as some play­ers couldn’t do it – it was just too hard for them to watch.

“But when the whis­tle fi­nally went at Wat­ford it was an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing be­cause it’s such a big achieve­ment.

“No-one gave us a chance at the start of the sea­son to get into the top two but we’ve done it and de­serve this suc­cess.

“The man­ager gave us a great be­lief and we’ve re­sponded to that.”

And Koren will hope to re­spond to the treat­ment he con­tin­ues to have at Hull so he can en­joy a sum­mer break back in his na­tive Slove­nia.

While the rest of the Tigers squad head off for sun­nier climes the 32-year-old re­mains on Hum­ber­side for now.

“We’ve had a good week of cel­e­bra­tions al­though I’ve had to be in for treat­ment on most days,” added Koren.

“A few of the lads are head­ing off on hol­i­days but un­for­tu­nately I’m in the older group now with a fam­ily and kids at school.

“They are wel­come to what they do. I’ve got a cou­ple of weeks re­lax­ing and get­ting more treat­ment here while the kids fin­ish school and then we will head back to Slove­nia.

“That gives me more than enough time to re­flect on this bril­liant achieve­ment and get my­self ready for the chal­lenge ahead.

“I had a taste of the Pre­mier League with West Brom and I’ve wanted to get back since.

“It’s the best league in the world and we’re go­ing to be part of it next sea­son.

“Ev­ery game will be a huge test but we will give it ev­ery­thing we have to stay at that level.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

IM­PACT: Boss Steve Bruce CAP­TAIN MAR­VEL: Robert Koren has played a big part in Hull’s pro­mo­tion. Inset: Hull at their pro­mo­tion party

STAY­ING PUT: Chris Kirk­land

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