EX­CLU­SIVE

Evening Times - - FOOTBALL -

AMARK HENDRY WEEK is a long time in foot­ball. Two years, then, must have felt like a life­time for former Mother­well winger Craig Tan­ner.

Hav­ing suf­fered a rup­tured patella ten­don and dis­lo­cated kneecap in a freak train­ing ac­ci­dent in March 2018, Tan­ner sat in the Fir Park physio room af­ter seven months on the treat­ment ta­ble and con­tem­plated pack­ing it all in at the age of 23.

He was mis­er­able. Hard work in the gym had merely brought lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion.

“You watch your team-mates play­ing foot­ball while you’re hav­ing to re-train your whole body,” said Tan­ner, who is now try­ing to res­ur­rect his ca­reer at Alder­shot in English foot­ball’s Na­tional League.

“I could barely walk up and down the stairs. Sim­ple stuff like get­ting on and off the sofa prop­erly was hard.

“It’s a re­ally rare in­jury in foot­ball which is a lot worse than do­ing your ACL [an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment]. It takes over your whole life, be­ing up at 3am or 4am, 15 pages deep in Google searches try­ing to see what else I can be do­ing.

“I hit a brick wall six or seven months in be­cause I wasn’t im­prov­ing and was in a lot of pain. You give your all in the gym; I was on my own in the gym ev­ery day and felt like I was never go­ing to get that break.

“I was ready to give up. I was go­ing to pack up and go trav­el­ling. I had a chat with the physio at Mother­well and told him if I didn’t see im­prove­ment, I’m not go­ing to keep do­ing it. I wasn’t en­joy­ing it, it wasn’t foot­ball.

“Ev­ery day I was go­ing through pain, phys­i­cally and men­tally, so I was very close [to re­tire­ment].”

Tan­ner could hear from the stands fans were ques­tion­ing his chances of a re­turn.

“A lot of peo­ple wrote me off and told me I’d do well to get back,” he said. “When you’re al­ready not in a great headspace and feel like ev­ery­thing is go­ing against you, when you hear peo­ple say ‘he’ll never be the same player’, it does af­fect you. At the end of the day you’re try­ing to get back play­ing for the team and per­form for the fans. It knocks you back.”

Of­fered a new deal by

Mother­well dur­ing his time out, Tan­ner sur­prised man­ager Stephen Robin­son by turn­ing it down. The former Ply­mouth and Read­ing player says, though, he only has pos­i­tive mem­o­ries of his time in Scot­land.

“Be­fore I left Mother­well I al­ways wanted to get back play­ing for them,” he said. “For me, that would’ve been the com­ple­tion of the come­back. Ob­vi­ously I never got that op­por­tu­nity for var­i­ous rea­sons.

“I want to say thank you to Stephen Robin­son. He brought me on and made me a bet­ter player. Be­fore I got in­jured he re­ally de­vel­oped my game a lot. He’s a ter­rific man­ager and I couldn’t be hap­pier for the club and the play­ers who are still there.”

Tan­ner is now try­ing to get him­self back to the form that had scouts lin­ing up at Fir Park to watch him.

“When I signed for Alder­shot and told the lads how long I’d been out for, they couldn’t be­lieve it,” he laughed.

“I feel now like I’m re­build­ing my ca­reer. You lose all the credit you have in the game when you are out for a long time. I’ve wrapped my head around it now to be able to get over it, but it was tough.

“I just want to prove ev­ery­one wrong and show I am over it and will be able to get back to where I was, or per­haps even higher.”

Craig Tan­ner was close to quit­ting foot­ball but is now seek­ing to kick-start his ca­reer at Alder­shot

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