The Bradford City chief helped Threlkeld out when he was at a low ebb in his life and struggling with mental health issues in the winter of 2018-19. He became, in the utility player’s words, his ‘saviour’.
Threlkeld and Adams go back a fair way.
Prior to recently linking up together for a fourth time, the Scot – during his time at Plymouth Argyle – brought the Lancastrian in on loan on two occasions before signing him permanently in the summer of 2016.
Successful times, including clinching promotion to League One, followed in Devon before Threlkeld rejected a new deal and chose to sign a three-year contract with Belgian First Division A side Waasland-Beveren in the close season of 2018.
It was a move which Threlkeld would soon regret.
Struggling for first-team opportunities and far from home, the versatile defender endured a mentally challenging time across the Channel.
He admitted that he struggled for motivation and even found it difficult to eat and sleep at some points before seeking help and support ahead of Adams rekindling his love of football.
At a timely juncture, Threlkeld found sanctuary under Adams again at Home Park, rejoining on loan in January, 2019.
It is something that he will be forever grateful for.
Threlkeld told The Yorkshire Post: “It was a time when I fell out of love with football and luckily, Derek Adams was there at Plymouth Argyle for me.
“I went there on loan to try and enjoy football again. I was not too bothered about playing and starting games. As long as I was happy, that was the main thing.
“Luckily, I did play the games and I fell back in love with football and found my feet and cleared my head and knew what I had to do when I was having a bad day. I started to enjoy my football and got going again.
“I don’t think there were many clubs there for me to come home to. He was the saviour in bringing me back to the UK. He knew that I enjoyed living in Plymouth and had a second family and friends there through playing and living there (before).
“I cannot give credit enough to Derek Adams. He was my saviour and I’ve a lot of respect for him.”
As someone who is acutely aware of the individual behind the player and his particular needs, Adams’s relationship with Threlkeld is built on strong foundations.
Just as he has got the best out of the Radcliffe-born player on the pitch, he has also been conscious of his happiness off it.
At the end of the day, a happy player usually leads to a successful one.
That will be the devout hope of the Bantams manager after signing Threlkeld once again following his release from Salford City.
The Ammies finished in a disappointing eighth place in League Two last term in a season which saw the former Bolton Wanderers player feature 35 times.
He started in the game which finally ended Bradford’s season as a competitive entity in late April when Salford won 1-0 at BD8.
With Adams now at the helm at City, there is renewed confidence that the claret and amber will be able to last the course under the 46-year-old, who has shown a strong propensity in the past to get the best out of players individually and collectively.
On the secret of his own success under Adams, Threlkeld, who can operate in the centre or on the right-hand side of a defence and in midfield, commented: “I don’t know what it is. I think it is just the mutual respect we have for each other. He trusts me and I trust him.
“If he doesn’t want to put me in a game, there’s obviously something that I need to be working at on the training ground or, for no particular reason, it is a benefit for the team.
“It is one of those where I can go into his office and speak to him if needs be and not be scared to get the answer I don’t really want or what I do want.
“The mutual respect is the reason why he has always got the best out of myself.”
Alongside Adams, Threlkeld can count on the backing of a support team if he experiences any fresh mental health issues, something that he has been open about in the past with the 26-year-old being an advocate of players reaching out and seeking help in times of need.
Threlkeld, who has signed a two-year deal at City, added: “I know what to do if I am having a bad day. I know if I need to speak to someone about it, whether it is a psychologist, the gaffer or my missus.
“Even something like just chewing gum takes my mind off things. I was speaking to a psychologist called Mark Bowden and he said that was the main thing that I needed to do.
“If someone needs someone, there is always going to be someone there for them.”