MY HULL HELL HAS MADE ME GROW

In­jury gives Rob new per­spec­tive

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

WHEN Robert Sn­od­grass made a £6m switch to Hull in June 2014, he hoped it would be the start of a jour­ney that took him to the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

One game later, those as­pi­ra­tions lay in ru­ins.The mid­fielder’s league de­but against QPR was just 40 min­utes old when an awk­ward twist dis­lo­cated his kneecap.

At the time, Steve Bruce reck­oned on a six-month ab­sence.The re­al­ity has been far grim­mer, with some 499 days elaps­ing be­tween the Scot’s in­jury and his next start against Pre­ston on De­cem­ber 28.

Dur­ing those grisly months in the gym, Hull were rel­e­gated from the Premier League whilst Scot­land – for whom Sn­od­grass has 15 caps – be­came the only home na­tion not to earn a berth in France.Yet the 28-year-old for­mer Leeds and Nor­wich man isn’t bit­ter about his down­turn in for­tunes.

“It’s amaz­ing how be­ing in­jured changes your per­spec­tive,” said Sn­od­grass, who scored 12 goals in 67 Premier League games for the Ca­naries. “When I first came to Hull, I had as­pi­ra­tions of fight­ing in the top half of the Premier League and play­ing for Scot­land. It was all that mat­tered. But when some­thing like this hap­pens, your pri­or­i­ties change. All I cared about was play­ing foot­ball again.

“I’m not say­ing I took foot­ball for granted but I def­i­nitely see it as a priv­i­lege now. To rep­re­sent your club or your coun­try, to wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s an op­por­tu­nity that very few peo­ple get and to have it taken away was hor­ri­ble.

“Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t have worked for hours on end for the last 15 months if I didn’t think I’d get back to the top.

“But whether I’m in the Premier League or the Cham­pi­onship, it doesn’t mat­ter to me now. I live for the day be­cause you don’t know what’ll hap­pen to­mor­row.”

Dev­as­ta­tion

Sn­od­grass spent much of his come­back in the stands, overcoming his ini­tial dev­as­ta­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence life on the other side of the ad­ver­tis­ing hoard­ings.

“Be­fore the in­jury, I’d watch foot­ball prac­ti­cally ev­ery day,” he ex­plains.“But, to be hon­est, for six months I couldn’t re­ally watch it. It was just too dif­fi­cult to take know­ing I wouldn’t be in­volved.

“I just had to put my mind to dif­fer­ent things. I’d do my re­hab and, on week­ends, I’d ob­vi­ously keep one eye on the score­line at Hull.

“But I tried to fo­cus on switch­ing off, spend­ing time with the fam­ily. I’ve got two lit­tle girls and I be­came more of a dad, giv­ing them some of the time that foot­ball usu­ally took.

“Later, I did the next best thing to play­ing and be­came a fan. I sup­ported our boys, and went to the Scot­land games.

“Ob­vi­ously I hoped Hull stayed up and I hoped Scot­land qual­i­fied. Nei­ther of those hap­pened and I was as gut­ted sat in the stands as I would have been on the pitch.”

Sn­od­grass in­sists he never wor­ried that his in­jury – which also caused sig­nif­i­cant lig­a­ment dam­age – would fail to heal.

“I al­ways had it in my head that I’d come back,” he said. “The big thing for me was not fret­ting about a timescale. Once you get over a year, you’re not wor­ried about an ex­tra cou­ple of weeks here or there.”

Just as he has come back stronger, the Scot be­lieves pro­mo­tion for Hull would end their yo-yoing days.

“If we go up, I think Hull will be a lot more sta­ble,” he added.“Ob­vi­ously there’s the fi­nances, the spon­sor­ship, the money that BT and Sky TV are throw­ing around. But there’s also a group of play­ers who’ve learned from the mis­takes that sent us down in the first place.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

PLENTY TO SHOUT ABOUT: Hull City’s Robert Sn­od­grass is just glad to be back play­ing af­ter his in­jury tor­ment

OLD DAYS: Scot­land’s Robert Sn­od­grass bat­tles for the ball against Croa­tia in World Cup 2014 qual­i­fy­ing

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