GIVEN what Harry Bunn has been through in his relatively short career thus far, few would begrudge him the fruits of his considerable labours in an outstanding 2014-15.
It is a fair bet that the young forward will be rewarded with personal silverware at Huddersfield’s end-of-season awards night and if he is made to say a few words afterwards, do not be surprised if he recounts his steps from a desperately tough episode in his footballing journey.
Making his way in the game, the aspiring Manchester City player suffered a potentially career-threatening knee ligament injury, sustaining serious damage after landing awkwardly in a game on loan for Crewe Alexandra against Tranmere Rovers on September 8, 2012.
Almost exactly a year to the day from that wretched afternoon, Bunn – son of former Oldham and Hull City marksman Frank – made his first-team return in a loan spell at Sheffield United, ironically against the side he faces today, Rotherham United, at the New York Stadium.
Bunn, now 22, has come a long way from that dark chapter when his career was in the balance and given the way he is flourishing at Town, all that painstaking rehabilitation and gym work during his 12-month absence has certainly been worth it.
Bunn said: “I was only 18 or 19 and the injury was a big moment for me. Being told I might not play again is tough to take.
If someone said to me within two years, I’d be playing in the Championship, I’d have snatched at the opportunity.
“It’s a long road to recovery when you have an injury like that. Thankfully I am over that now.
“You have a few good days and a lot of bad days and I think it has made me mentally positive.
“I tried to stay positive, but you never know in football and at such a young age, I was quite naive and didn’t really know what to think.
“But thankfully, I had a lot of good characters around me at the time and I owe a lot to the medical team at Manchester City.”
Staying positive and patient has been a key strand in the career of Bunn – a thoroughly grounded and likeable lad – and while patience did not prove a virtue at first club City, with a whole fleet of millionaire household name footballers blocking his way to the first team, he is not one to complain.
With his old man looking out for him, a path was cleared for him to showcase his prowess at Huddersfield – where Bunn senior coached.
He soon signed a short-term deal and the rest is history.
He added: “I had been at City since I was eight or nine. But when you are at a club like that with all their money, I think you get to a certain age and know your time is up.
“I had been on loan a few times and gone away with the team for pre-season, but when the season started, I was not getting any closer to the first team. That made their decision quite easy.
“The interest was there and I thought Huddersfield was a great opportunity for me. Huddersfield are a club who give a lot of opportunity to young players.
“I followed Tommy Smith here and thankfully followed him into the first team.”
With nine goals to his name this term, Bunn’s breakthrough campaign, all things being equal, should culminate in a double-figure haul.
Bunn is the first to admit that input from his father, who famously scored six goals for Oldham in a League Cup victory over Scarborough at Boundary Park in 1990, has sharpened his predatory edge – much via sage advice rather than actual coaching.
Bunn said: “He is always telling me I need to be in the box more.
“This season, it has finally clicked in my head and I think that has showed and I am one away from double figures this season and hopefully I can achieve that.
“My goal in pre-season was to try and cement a place in the team and thankfully l was given a chance quite early in the season.
“Things have gone well for me personally and hopefully I can get a few more goals.”
Bunn, for one, will not be complaining if his father stays on his case, that is when he does not refer to that legendary six-goal haul against Scarborough.
Bunn added: “He always talks about it.
“I think he has it on video somewhere, but it has now ended up on YouTube and he can get it up on his phone at any time.
“But he is always giving me advice and comes to all the home games and some of the away games and talks to me after the game about things I could have done better and differently.
“There’s probably a bit more constructive criticism than praise and I think I prefer it that way as well.”