KOREN: IT WAS HELL WATCHING MY HULL
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.”
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