STEPHEN QUINN has played more than 300 career games and proudly represented his country on the international stage since the final game 0f 2007.
But the pain and dejection of the day Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League on a rain-sodden afternoon at Bramall Lane has never left the Irishman.
It is why Quinn refuses to even consider the possibility that Hull City, without a win in nine games and second bottom in the table, could suffer the same fate in the New Year.
“Going down doesn’t come into my head,” said the 28-year-old ahead of a potentially season-defining run of four games in 13 days over the festive season.
“We have got enough here. We have shown that in certain games this year so, if anything, we will be looking up the table and, hopefully, having a good Christmas period.
“We have got a strong squad. There are good lads here who are prepared to fight. I believe in the lads we have got and we have made some additions as well this year. We just need to produce as a team.”
Pressed on whether any lessons were learned on that miserable day when Wigan Athletic sent Neil Warnock’s Blades down that could prove useful this time around, Quinn replied: “I am not really thinking about going down or the differences (compared to the year United lost their top flight status). It is not something on my mind.”
Quinn, who made 15 appearances in that season when United were relegated, is enjoying a decent run in the side right now.
He has featured in 11 of Hull’s 16 league games this term. Six of those have been starts, meaning he has already eclipsed last season’s tally, and much will be required of Quinn today as Tom Huddlestone starts a four-game ban as Swansea City come to the KC Stadium.
Against one of the Premier League’s best passing sides, the Tigers will need to take control of midfield if they are to arrest the slump in form that is threatening the club’s stay among the elite.
For Quinn, a strong end to 2014 would be the perfect way to sign off after a year of contrasting fortunes for the midfielder.
“Up and down to be honest,” is how he assesses the past 12 months. “I had an injury and then I thought I might be out the door here.
“But then I end up starting the FA Cup final and getting international caps against Germany and so on. I thought I was out the door at Hull again (in the summer) but then I came back in and started games at the start of the season.
“It has been a bit indifferent in parts, but I hope to get a bit more consistency and to be playing more regularly next year.
“At the start of this season, I had been enjoying playing. I was starting to come into a little bit of confidence, so it was disappointing when I got left out for a spell.
“I got back in the team and then was out again. It is up to the manager how he wants to do it but I can only come in and do my bit when he needs me.
“I am always there, ready and waiting. I believe I contribute a lot to the team and I hope I can prove that by playing regular football.”
Hull’s festive schedule will continue after today’s visit from the Swans with a Boxing Day trip to Sunderland and another home clash two days later as Leicester City come to the KC.
Both those clubs are locked firmly in the battle for survival, meaning the Tigers cannot afford any slip-ups ahead of the January 1 visit of Everton to East Yorkshire.
If – and considering that Hull have won just six of 35 league games in 2014, that is a big ‘if’ – Steve Bruce’s men can claim a decent points haul over the festive period then the table will look very different when the Premier League takes a break in early January for the FA Cup third round.
“The feeling we have at the moment is one of frustration,” said Quinn ahead of the Christmas holidays. “It is frustrating to be where we are.
“But we need to dig in now and show a bit of character. We need to show a bit of grit and determination to see if we can start getting those results we think we are capable of. We’ll see how we go over this next month.
“Our home form has to improve. But three of the next four games at home are against teams we believe we can take points off.
“We need to win the games against those teams in and around us in that mini league. It is no good nicking draws at Arsenal and Liverpool away, which were really good results, if you then lose away to Burnley, who are one of our closest rivals in the league.
“We have got to take points from those as they are our biggest games.”
Just four points separate Hull in 19th from West Bromwich Albion in 14th, underlining just how tightly packed together the clubs involved in the relegation scrap are near the foot of the table.
“The league table doesn’t worry me,” said Quinn. “We are coming up to halfway through and we have played well at times.
“We have been doing some video analysis this week and we’ve not been playing badly at all.
“It is maybe just parts of games where we have conceded when we shouldn’t have.
“We are playing okay but we need results now. If that means winning ugly and not playing as well, then so be it. We just need wins and quickly.
“I wouldn’t worry, though. I have been in this situation with Sheffield United before when we thought we were safe at this time but it can all change pretty quickly.
“There are not many points between the teams so a couple of wins could bring us right up to the top half.”