NO ONE can say that Hull City full-back Liam Rosenior has not deserved his crack back in the Premier League big time.
As the 28-year-old prepares for this afternoon’s game against his boyhood favourites West Ham United, he is entitled to think just how far he has come in the space of three years – in the autumn of 2010 his footballing career was at a crossroads and his hopes of returning to top-flight action seemed somewhat dim.
Released by Ipswich and with his spells in the top division at Fulham and Reading an increasingly distant memory, the defender followed a path well known to countless footballers seeking employment – negotiating week-long trials.
Hull and Leicester offered him opportunities, with the free agent – after pounding the vast expanses of Wimbledon Common in a bid to get fit after leaving Ipswich – eventually destined for employment 200-odd miles north in East Yorkshire.
Then, it was a case of proving himself again, with his initial two-month deal turned into something more substantive. Eventually.
Rosenior’s long-term goal was to one day ply his trade back in the Premier League, which looked some way down the line early in the 2010-11 season for Hull, who were struggling to even pay the bills back then.
Picking up the pieces following a relegation that was costly in every way, the Tigers’ hopes rested squarely on the success of the proposed take-over from the Allam family, which provided the club with a financial kiss of life.
The Allams paid off a mountain of debt and enabled people to justifiably start dreaming again.
For the driven Londoner, mocked by many when he was training on his own, his hard work and sacrifices have eventually proved worthwhile for himself and his family.
On life just before linking up with Hull, Rosenior, who signed a new deal in the summer committing his future to the Tigers until 2015, recalled: “I was running around Wimbledon Common, running round the roads and trying to stay fit.
“It’s harder mentally rather than physically. I was going to watch games and you just want to be part of things and you want to play.
“I found myself in a position where I was without a club in October and I only signed for Hull in November. I had offers from the Championship, which I turned down. There were one or two Premier League clubs interested but they didn’t come through with a contract.
“I’m an ambitious person. Some people may take it as arrogance, but I believe I’m a Premier League player.
“People wrote me off, saying things on the internet like I would end up playing in League Two. People saw me in the park and laughed at me; that’s fair enough.
“But I want to make sure for the rest of my career I enjoy it and play in the Premier League. I realise how lucky I am to be doing this.
“I’m delighted that’s happened for me (again) but I’m not going to rest on my laurels. I’ve learned so much in the last few years about being complacent, that I’m not going to let this chance pass me by. I was born into football. To be out of football for four months was hard. I had three kids, but no job.
“Looking back, that’s made me a much better person and a much better player. I will use that to my advantage.”
Rosenior was impressive on his seasonal bow in the top flight for the Tigers in last weekend’s thrilling 3-2 win at Newcastle United, filling in at left-back for the unavailable Maynor Figueroa and sticking like a limpet to Magpies’ danger man Hatem Ben Afra, despite playing in an unaccustomed left-back role.
With Honduran international Figueroa back in the fray today, it remains to be seen if Rosenior has done enough to stay in the side.
Whether he has or not, Rosenior wants to stay at Hull for keeps. While his accent may be Cockney, his footballing heart is definitely ‘up north.’
He added: “Whether I play on Saturday or not, I know I’ll get another chance and I want to make the most of it and stay in the team
“It’s up to the manager. It’s a hard job and everyone’s playing well at the moment. I just wanted to put it in his mind that I’m good enough to play at this level. I don’t just want to stay here for the next few games, I want to stay here for the rest of my career.
“This club (Hull) was on the brink of liquidation when I joined and they couldn’t even pay me.
“They had to (promise to) back pay me. That’s how badly the club was run before. You look at it now and we’ve got a fantastic structure.”
Lining up against the Hammers, one of his father Leroy’s former clubs, would certainly be sweet for Rosenior, who fondly recalls childhood memories from Upton Park where his father was as a centre-forward in the late Eighties and early Nineties.
He added: “I would say West Ham were my first love. That’s where my love for football and motivation to be a footballer started. When my dad was at West Ham, I was four or five years old and that’s when you get an itch for what you want to do.
“I used to go to Upton Park to watch them play Man United, Liverpool and Tottenham. Five minutes before the game, we’d be in the dressing room having a kick about. It was a real family club.
“At Christmas, the manager, John Lyall, would sit all the kids on his knee and give them presents,” he said.
“There’s a couple of incriminating pictures of me and my brother in West Ham kits, but they won’t be coming out before Saturday, that’s for sure.”