BETT ON MARCUS MAKING IT BACK
Injured keeper’s work ethic is crucial
IF ANYONE will put in the hard work to return from a horrible knee injury, it’s Fulham’s Marcus Bettinelli. The 23-year-old keeper had to be carried off on a stretcher following an accidental collision with team-mate Matt Smith and Hull City’s Abel Hernandez during Wednesday night’s 2-1 defeat.
Both Bettinelli and Smith sustained knee ligament injuries, and boss Kit Symons admits it doesn’t look good for the stopper.
Just four days earlier, the England U21 international was at Haileybury School in Hertford Heath.
The former Dartford and Accrington Stanley loanee was out of bed early on Sunday morning at The Art of Saving academy to lend his support to Mick Payne, who used to train him as a youngster.
Back then, on cold Walthamstow nights, England C keeper coach Payne used to put on car headlights to give them more light in which to work.
“I’ve known Mick a long time, through my old man, and he was a great help to me when I was younger,” said Bettinelli, whose dad Vic is Fulham’s Academy goalie coach.
“We were joking about it, but we used to go and train on a little bit of grass by the side of an Astro pitch. We used the overspill of the floodlights to see.
“It was dark, cold, wet and windy. My dad used to drive me over there after school and Mick would take the sessions.
“Every little bit helps when you are younger and trying to learn. So I’m very grateful for what Mick has done for me and I’m delighted to come down and see the next generation.”
With more than 100 goalkeepers aged between seven and 51, and from as far away as Israel and Bermuda, Bettinelli also took part in a Q&A along with AFC Wimbledon stopper James Shea
And what was is his biggest piece of advice for budding goalies?
“Hard work beats talent – 100 per cent,” Bettinelli said.“A lot of people down at Fulham will tell you, when I was a scholar, I wasn’t great. I wasn’t an amazing goalkeeper.
“But I worked hard. I put in the hours. I put in more than anybody else and, luckily enough for me, it’s worked out.
“My old man has always been involved in football. He’s always taught me well, put me in good stead and got me involved with people like Mick and Martin Brennan, who is my goalkeeper coach now at Fulham.They drive you on each day.”
While that drive will be needed for long days recuperating in the gym, Bettinelli won’t shy away.
The blow came at the worst time, having just signed a new four-year deal on the back of going away with the England U21 squad to the European Championships in the summer.
It was the latest stop in a career that was on the up after important loan spells at NonLeague Dartford and League Two Accrington had aided his development.
“When I look back at Dartford, it was a great time for me,” he said, speaking before the injury.“It was my first exposure to real games.
“After Dartford I went on to Accrington and played another 46 games there.
“It’s about playing games and improving. That’s what Dartford and Accrington did for me. Without that, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“Fulham is a great club to be at, a great stadium and great fans.
“We’ve got great facilities and I enjoy it there. I’m hoping to be at the club for a very long time.”
ETCHED IN PAIN: Marcus Bettinelli’s face tells the tale after colliding with Matt Smith. Inset: He’s carried off
LONG ROAD AHEAD: Bettinelli faces a battle for fitness
MENTOR: England C coach Payne guided young Bettinelli