SUCH was the tension felt by Elias Kachunga during last season’s nerve-jangling run-in for Huddersfield Town that the final few games could not be watched alone.
Instead the German-born forward, the Terriers’ top scorer in the promotion year but by then out with a knee injury, settled down in front of the TV with fellow absentee Danny Williams.
There was just one exception, the night Town’s safety was assured with that never-to-be forgotten draw at Chelsea.
Even then Kachunga, a calm and relaxed character usually, spent most of the second half on the phone to Williams as the pair headed and kicked every ball before Lee Mason blew the final whistle to spark celebrations that saw the Huddersfield squad paint the town blue and white in the capital before heading back north on the first train of the morning.
“I was a little bit disappointed that Mark (Fagan, player liaison officer) did not arrange for the private jet to come and get us,” quips Kachunga when asked by The Yorkshire Post if he was jealous to miss out on the all-night party in London.
“We could then have gone straight away to London. No, seriously, the boys came back from London and we celebrated together after the last game. Everything was good.”
Kachunga’s joy at Town staying up was tinged with a sense of relief that he would be getting a second crack at the Premier League.
His debut campaign in the top flight had been wrecked by two serious injuries that saw the DR Congo international make just a couple of appearances from mid-December onwards.
The first injury came on a bitter-sweet afternoon at Watford, who at the time were managed by Marco Silva.
Kachunga broke the deadlock early on to set Town on their way to a 4-1 victory, but his afternoon ended early following an accidental collision with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
That is in the past, it is finished and I am fit. I am looking to the future. I want to stay healthy and don’t look back.Huddersfield’s Elias Kachunga
It would be another three months before supporters saw Kachunga again, his return coming as a substitute in March’s 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Kachunga then started the next game at Newcastle on Easter Saturday only for an awful tackle from Kenedy to end his season.
“To score and then get injured was disappointing,” he said about that 4-1 win at Vicarage Road. “But the second injury was worse. In my eyes it was a really stupid situation from the opponent. To go to the ball like that.
“I was angry, 100 per cent. It was a stupid foul. I don’t want to speak too much as well about the referee. There were a few situations before (Kenedy’s tackle).
“But that is in the past, it is finished and I am fit. I am looking to the future. I want to stay healthy and don’t look back.”
Kachunga’s return to action came in the midweek Carabao Cup defeat to Stoke City. It was the third time in four outings this season that Town have failed to score, something that has been leapt upon by those once again tipping the Yorkshire club for the drop.
Huddersfield’s lack of goals is, of course, nothing new. They fired 21 blanks last season and found the net just 28 times, the joint-lowest tally in the Premier League along with relegated Swansea City.
A near 30-year unwanted club record was also matched by manager David Wagner’s men, who went seven straight games on the road without scoring.
Kachunga was the man who ended that barren 648-minute run with his early strike against Watford and he insists the goals will start to flow for the club.
“There is always pressure, but that can be a good thing for a player,” he said when asked about life in a team where goals are hard to come by. “It means you are focused on the pitch to do the right things. It is the same now.
“Sometimes you need that little bit of luck to score goals. We try to create chances and, if anything, that day at Watford shows how quickly things can change.
“In the games before that one we created some good chances, but the luck did not go for us. But at Watford it was one of those days we played really well and the ball went in the net.
“Getting that goal early on meant we were able to play a bit better. Everything got a bit easier and we took that into our next games. It was a big day for us.
“Now we have to work hard to bring this luck back. We want to score goals, everyone knows this.”
Kachunga may have to be happy with a place on the bench today as Huddersfield return to Goodison Park, the venue for the seventh and final game of last season’s goal-free run on the road. He is, however, just happy to still be a Premier League player.
He said: “Watching the final few games on television wasn’t easy. It is why I watched with Danny Williams, sometimes in my house and sometimes at his house.
“Chelsea was the only one we watched apart. But after 50 minutes we both went to the phone and had face-time together for the rest of the match. It was too hard to watch on our own. We were both so happy that the boys had brought it over the line.
“After what happened to me with the injuries it is great that I have a second chance in the Premier League. I had six months out and lost more than half the season.
“But that is all in the past. As is our defeat at Everton last year. They have a new manager and we want to get a result.”