Huddersfield Town v Barnsley: Pipa feels at home with his Terriers ‘family’

THE friendships among successful Huddersfield Town teams of the past have remained strong and lasting over many years.

From those who wore the blue and white during feted times under Ian Greaves and Mick Buxton to the players who were part of memorable journeys in the eras of Neil Warnock and, most latterly, David Wagner.

Those respective sides were not just full good players, but also good people among touch-tight dressing rooms which always looked out for each other and had their team-mates’ backs. Individuals who supporters could instantly identity with.

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Granted, the class of Carlos Corberan have plenty to do to achieve anything resembling the feats of those aforesaid bosses.

Huddersfield Town's Pipa. Picture Bruce Rollinson

What can be said is that they possess players of sound character to compliment ability. Players who look after their own.

Which brings us to Pipa.

Being away from family and friends and working in another country is sometimes not easy – especially when you find yourself on the treatment table for a while.

The former Espanyol full-back underwent surgery to correct a problematic hip injury last summer and after spending some time back in his native Catalonia, he headed back to Huddersfield for his rehabilitation.

Huddersfield Town's head coach Carlo Corberan. Picture Tony Johnson.

His first-team return arrived in Town’s final game of 2021 at Nottingham Forest. He is now making up for lost time on the pitch, but crucially, the 24-year-old never got low off it during those hard times in recovery.

It owes a fair bit to the unity and support in a dressing room which has regularly been referred to as the best they have experienced by senior Town players whose opinion possesses merit.

One of those in Harry Toffolo perhaps put it the best recently in saying that playing for Huddersfield this season ‘is like coming to work with your mates.’

It has certainly assisted Pipa.

He said: “With the injury, I was close to my family and my friends there when I was in Spain. But here, my family is everyone from the club because my family do not stay here and I am alone.

“They helped me a lot to recover well to give me the conditions to play. I think everything helps inside the dressing room – and we have got a beautiful dressing room of team-mates. Everything helps and I am ready to play now.

“Everything here is very family-orientated and I never had any problem to adapt and be with the group and people here. I am a person who likes to get (good) relationships with everyone.

“Of course, I feel at home and I am good.”

Last season, of course, was more testing for Town.

On the pitch, the team did it tough in the second half of the campaign and it is fair to say the commitment of a small group of players was questionable.

They have since been moved on and it is to Town’s credit that those who now wear the blue and white stripes are made of sterner stuff and can be counted upon – with the mentality shift among the group being a real success story and reflecting well on everyone involved with the club’s heartening tale so far in 2021-22.

Pipa commented: “A lot of football is about mentality. When you are in a good dynamic and getting results, everything is good and everyone is happy. It is like everything in life, if you are doing things well, everyone is happy and it is easier.

“Last season was really tough and everyone was suffering the same and the players were feeling very, very bad and I was feeling like I was a bad player.

“This season is the total opposite and we are doing everything well and we have improved the things we did bad last season.

“Everyone is enjoying it – the fans and the club and all the people around us. It’s fantastic.”

Healthily placed in fifth spot in the Championship table – a position that no-one who have predicted back in August – Town head into today’s all-Yorkshire tie on the back of an 11-match unbeaten sequence.

Corberan’s side are enjoying the ride and the cherry on the cake would be a decent cup run.

The appetite was whetted by way of Town’s richly-deserved victory in the previous round at top-flight Burnley – even if events elsewhere ensured that the result slipped under the radar a little.

Turf Moor was famously the venue where Town’s journey to cup glory began a century ago in 1922.

It is a historical fact referenced by Corberan. He is not foolhardy enough to suggest anything resembling a re-run will occur, yet it gives inspiration all the same.

Corberan added: “I think every high achievement is an inspiration. Not only in football, even in other sports.

“I don’t think achieving something important is a coincidence. The highest achievers are the consequence of good dynamics, good performances and a good mentality.”