MY BRIGHT FUTURE
Defender Liam Rosenior is loving life on the south coast at Brighton
WIMBLEDON Common and Wemb ley Stadium aren’t separated by much. Thirteen miles on the north circular, a trip up the District Line.
But for Brighton defender Liam Rosenior, it was a journey that took buckets of sweat, sleepless nights and every inch of willpower.
Back in the summer of 2010, the full-back had just been ditched by Reading. His agent had gone quiet. His telephone too. As the weeks trundled by and old mates returned to pre-season, a nagging sense of doubt became outright desperation.
“It was the hardest period of my professional life by a long way,” says Rosenior, now 31. “I’d played in the Premier League, in the Championship. You’re thinking ‘Surely somebody could use me’. But then… nothing. I realised that I had to do something for myself.”
For many, that would be a trip to Dubai or a Caribbean island. For Rosenior, it meant a makeshift – and very public – training camp in the leafy corner of SW19 made famous by the Wombles.
“I trained on Wimbledon Common,” laughs Rosenior, who finally got his reward when Nigel Pearson and Hull came calling in late October.“I set up my own cones, did my own drills. I was out there running for hours.
“The thing is, I always had faith in my ability. I had to, or I’d never have been able to go out on my own every day. I was training harder than I would have done even if I’d been doing preseason at a club.
“I remember when I first went to Hull, I played a trial game on a Tuesday. That was my first match in six months and I’d done maybe three proper training sessions.
“I came through that, then got chucked straight into the first team on the Saturday. But because I had trained so hard on my own, my fitness wasn’t an issue.
“Four years later I’d been promoted back to the Premier League, played in an FA Cup final at Wembley and got to Europe. It was nice to prove a few people wrong.”
Rosenior, though, is bright enough to realise that players don’t end up on the scrapheap by accident.
Having come through the ranks at Bristol City, he joined Premier League Fulham as a teenager and – despite the guidance of dad Leroy– fell into a familiar trap.
“I didn’t realise it then, but I’d been very fortunate,” he explains. “I was a young guy of 20-21, playing regularly in the Premier League for Fulham.
“And, looking back, I got complacent. I took my eye off the ball, thinking I’d made it. I didn’t do as much as I could to improve, I didn’t work on my weaknesses.
“I didn’t have a bad attitude or anything like that. I wasn’t going out every night. It was a lot more subtle – maybe I just dropped from 100 per cent intensity to 99. And at that level – unless you’re Messi or Ronaldo – that’s not enough.
“I ended up without a club at the age of 26 and was probably lucky to get back into the game. It was a painful time for me, but the lessons have been learned.”
Sadly, not by Hull. Promoted to the top flight under Steve Bruce in 2013, a solid first season was followed by the dreaded sophomore slump.
Big signings like Abel Hernandez failed to fire, others – like Robert Snodgrass – fell victim to long-term injury. The Tigers won just eight matches and were eventually relegated from the top-flight with an 18th-place finish.
“That’s what can happen if you get complacent,” says Rosenior, who was released in May and subsequently joined Brighton.
“And I do think that happened to an extent at Hull.We stayed up, got to the Cup final, then bought a load of new players. But just spending money
BIG BREAK: Fulham snapped up Rosenior at 19 GREENER GRASS: Liam Rosenior is happy with his move to Brighton & Hove Albion after being released by Hull City BIG STAGE: Rosenior started for Hull in the FA Cup Final
GOOD MAN: Chris Hughton gets players “on side” MENTOR: The fullback will offer advice to youngsters like Rohan Ince