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    Jack Collison interview

    Tony P
    1st Team Bench

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    Jack Collison interview

    Post  Tony P on Sat 07 Nov 2015, 8:42 pm

    Got a lot of time for this lad..........

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    [size=48]Jack Collison interview: The story of one footballer's broken Premier League dreams[/size]

    The image of a Premier League footballer is one of glamour and wealth. But  for some it can be more complicated and darker than that. Like millions, the author of this article dreamt of playing a the top level. Unlike the vast majority, he made it - only to have his career shattered by a series of devastating injuries freom which he is still recovering. Here, at the age of 27, he tells his own story: one of ecstatic highs but also pain and sorrow - and growing up


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    Over the next few seasons we experienced plenty of highs and lows together. I had a great run in the team under Zola, but just three days after scoring a winner against Manchester City in March 2009 my footballing world fell apart. On a cold, wet night at Wigan I tried to bring the ball down on my chest and I felt my knee go as I tried to run in the opposite direction. I knew it was a bad one straight away, I gripped on to the grass trying to stop the intense pain shooting through my leg but nothing would work. 
    I couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. I was disappointed the next day when I found out the club doctor was content for me to fly to Spain on a team trip rather than to get my knee sorted. This was one of the first times I realised there was more that went on behind the scenes. People were in it for themselves, and over the next year I felt how little regard there was for me as a young professional. I considered I had been put at risk by this doctor to avoid him having a long-term injury on his hands. How disappointing was that?
    I patched the knee up and made a return a couple of months later, but as time wore on I knew it didn’t feel right. It was a tough decision but eventually I knew I had to have a big operation. I managed to play over half the season, but we were struggling in the League and it got to the point where I was hardly training and just playing games with the promise I could see the best people in the world to make it right at the end of the season.
    I didn’t make it to the end of the season and had to go in myself and tell the manager that I could no longer continue. He seemed shocked and I’m not sure to what extent he knew of my situation with my knee. Once again I felt the doctor’s agenda was very different to mine and being naive and not wanting to miss any football I went along with the plan, not realising the lasting effects it could have on my career.
    It was during this tricky time I also lost my dad. He was killed in a motorcycle accident and I can remember the day as if it were yesterday. Everything about it. Tottenham at home in the League, a game my dad would have been at. I remember coming into the players lounge afterwards and noticing my dad wasn’t there. It wasn’t strange for my dad to go missing, but this felt different. I tried to call and text but there was no reply.
    I headed home and remember settling down to watch highlights of the cricket. Then my buzzer went. As I looked out of my flat window my heart sank. I could see the police waiting to come in. “What’s going on?” I thought, and all the time in my head I was thinking: “It must be dad”. 


    At first I thought he had got himself in a spot of bother. But as the policeman spoke to me, I knew it was more. He had a sad look in his eyes and struggled to make eye contact with me. And then he uttered the devastating words: “Your dad has been involved in a fatal motorbike accident.” I felt numb.  I felt empty.  I was upset, annoyed and in a complete state of shock. 
    Emotion was running through me as I burst into tears. I couldn’t control them as I made the phone call to my mum to let her know what had happened. I was 20. 

    It’s hard to explain exactly how I felt, but I decided to play in a cup game three days later and I knew it was the right thing to do. It was a massive game against Millwall, our local rivals, and I knew my dad would have been there cheering me on under the lights at Upton Park. It was such an emotional night and one that I will never, ever forget. This was the night the football family came together. My team-mates, the staff and the West Ham fans carried me through what was the toughest game of football I have and ever will play in. 
    The intense feelings were very different. It’s hard to find anything that can make you feel 10-feet tall when all you want to do is roll up into a ball and cry and let the world swallow you up.
    I battled on for much of that season despite my chronic injuries then eventually had the operation. After that I worked day and night for 14 months alongside some of the best people I have ever met in the game. When you talk about being tested, this period in my life was definitely the toughest, but it was also the time when I learnt the most about myself as a person. I grew up and had to become a man.

    My first start after this was one of mixed emotions. Once again, we had Wigan away. I had worked so hard to make it back and was desperate to try and do my bit for the team. We were really struggling in the League, and I was helpless throughout the whole season, kicking and heading every ball as a fan, it really was torturous.
    Strangely the day of my comeback  – 15 May, 2011 – also turned out to be the day that we got relegated. It’s hard to explain, but I felt so grateful at the time to be out on the pitch again that the disappointment of being relegated took slightly longer to hit me then it did for some of the others.
    Relegation meant the end for Avram Grant and in came Sam Allardyce. The following season, under Big Sam, was possibly my most successful in a West Ham shirt. I played 36 games and scored vital goals to help win promotion back into the Premier League.  And there were more of those ecstatic highs when I scored twice in the play-off semi-final to help us on our way to Wembley. This feeling was heightened when we beat Blackpool 2-1 on the big day in front of a packed house.
    It’s hard when in your heart you feel like you can play football but your body can’t quite do what you want it to.
    Jack Collison
    On a personal level I struggled throughout the game with my shoulder and my knee, but there was no way I was going to come off. It was a day you dream of as a kid, and going up the stairs to collect my medal was a special moment, one that fills me with pride when I think back on it.
    But if that was an unforgettable high, there were plenty of lows to come in the next two seasons as I battled against injury once again and struggled to force my way into the team. Knee troubles were once more the root of the problem and limited my playing time once again. Two short loan spells and another injury were to follow. 
    By the end of the 2013-14 season I found myself without a club and out of contract. Of course I was disappointed to be leaving West Ham. It was all that I had known since I was 16. This was a club I had sweated, bled and often played on injured for. It was also a club I had grown to love. In my heart I knew my time was coming as I hadn’t been playing, but it was very difficult to let go. 
    Last season was another wasted one for me, a brief spell at Ipswich followed by another injury left me once again in a very dark place and without a job. It was at this point that I took the time to re-evaluate and made the decision to have some time away from football. I felt I needed to let my injuries heal and to give myself the best chance of a comeback.

    It was a very difficult decision to make. It’s hard when in your heart you feel like you can play football but your body can’t quite do what you want it to.
    I put my head down and worked hard, day and night to get my body right and be able to go back to playing. I also used my spare time to set up the Jack Collison Soccer School, start a university degree (in sports journalism) and begin my coaching badges. All of the areas would be of value to me if I didn’t quite achieve my goal. But I did them all as a  back-up, never once doubting that I would make it back on to a football pitch.

    If not for his injury problems, Collison could have represented Wales at Euro 2016 this summer alongside Gareth Bale
    During the darkest times I was very lucky to have strong people around me. Having a daughter and a supportive fiancée helps when you really hit the floor. Coming home after a tough day, it’s nice to have to chase a crazy two-year-old around. It really helped take my mind away from the bad stuff and appreciate what I do have.
    Finally in June I felt I was ready. I was fit and in shape, ready to train and once again on the look-out for a new team. I eventually signed for Peterborough United. It felt right, with the slightest hint of a fairytale in that I was going back to where it had started all those years ago as an energetic nine-year-old.
    But even now my story is not over. I have played quite a few times for the Posh this season but not as much as I would have liked. I’m still working day and night to improve and get back to playing week in, week out.
    The dream is still there but the reality of a footballer’s life is not quite what I imagined as a kid growing up. I am 27 now and looking back at my football life, I have experienced a wide variety of feelings and challenges. Some amazing, and so intense that they make me tingle when I think about them. Others not so good, but which have helped me grow as a person. 
    I feel very thankful for everything I have and if you ever see me on the pitch nowadays, more often than not I will have a huge smile on my face. I treat every game, every training session and every moment on the grass as if it will be my last. I try not to get too carried away with being disappointed as it is an accomplishment in itself that I can call myself a professional footballer.
    I look back on it all as a great adventure, a story with plenty of ups and downs. I feel blessed to say that this is my story and one that I hope still has plenty in it. I am very thankful now when three o’clock on Saturday arrives and even more so if I am playing.
    Because there is one thing I know for sure. And that is that I am Jack Collison… the footballer.[/size]
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    Re: Jack Collison interview

    Post  mottinghammer on Sat 07 Nov 2015, 9:57 pm

    Great lad,  always did his best for the team.  I remember the Millwall game after his dad died,  very emotional.  A proper Weat Ham player

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    Re: Jack Collison interview

    Post  SemiOldIron on Sat 07 Nov 2015, 10:43 pm

    Thanks for posting this Mr P, a fascinating read. Sometimes we forget that these are not robots, or avatars in a video game, they are real people. The rewards may be high, but the disappointments can be crushing.

    Good luck to you, Jack, you're always still one of us. hatsoff
    manurewa hammer

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    Re: Jack Collison interview

    Post  manurewa hammer on Sun 08 Nov 2015, 9:28 am

    HE has a great way with words, sure we will see him in the media before too long.
    Good luck Jack.

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