AHEAD of the seven-game run-in that will decide Huddersfield Town’s Premier League fate, Collin Quaner had to get away.
The final international break of the season provided the opportunity and the 26-year-old German grasped it with both hands.
Three days in Barcelona with his girlfriend were followed by a flying visit back to Dusseldorf to catch up with family.
Football was very much off the agenda as Quaner looked to recharge his batteries for the battles that lie ahead with the Terriers.
Just a few minutes in the refreshed German’s company earlier this week suggested the break has done the trick, even if his father Noah could not resist a bit of football chatter – and, in particular, some fatherly advice as to where his son can improve – when the pair met up.
“My parents have always been good at giving me advice,” explained the Huddersfield attacker to The Yorkshire Post with a smile. “And especially my dad Noah.
“He was always the one to watch my games when I was younger. He still does now. If anything comes to his mind or there is anything he wants me to work on, Dad tells me. His latest one is to be better when finishing with my left foot.
“He thinks it can improve. I had some situations lately with my left foot that maybe I could handle a little bit better.
“Dad was not a footballer. He played as a hobby, but not a professional. But he likes to talk to me about my game.
“I do listen to him. A lot of the time something he mentions I already know should be improved. I know I could have done better.
“So, most of the time I agree with him. He doesn’t make a video, no. He just talks me through. He has always done this. I always trained with him as a young man. I tell him he is right.”
Only time will tell if Quaner senior’s latest pep talk pays dividends. But if the £500,000 signing from FC Union Berlin does ping one into the top corner with his left foot at St James’ Park today his very proud parent will have extra reason to smile.
His son has certainly made a big impression since moving to England in January last year. A goal on debut in the FA Cup was a decent way to announce himself as head coach David Wagner’s latest import from his home country, even if holding down a regular place in the Town starting XI proved a tall order.
Quaner made 19 league appearances last term, 10 of which came as a substitute. The play-offs brought three of those cameos from the bench, but one, in particular, means the German has a guaranteed place in Huddersfield sporting folklore.
When the 6ft 3ins attacker came on at Sheffield Wednesday with 18 minutes of the semi-final second leg remaining Town were 1-0 down and facing a likely exit.
Within 60 seconds, however, Quaner had created the equaliser with a typically powerful charge down the right flank and cross that was turned into his own goal by Tom Lees.
The momentum in the two-legged tie had swung back towards the Terriers, who went on to book their place at Wembley in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Once in the Premier League, Quaner has again been in and out of the side, but if Huddersfield do stay up then there is no doubt the big German will have played his part. Anyone at Watford in December as an unwanted club record for consecutive away games without a goal was narrowly avoided will surely attest to that.
“I do not feel like this is pressure,” said Quaner when asked about a run-in that will continue next weekend with another crucial road trip to fellow promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion.
“It was the same last year. It is excitement that we feel not pressure. We were excited to play at Wembley last year (in the Championship play-off final) and also this year we are excited about staying in the Premier League.
“I cannot say if it suits us to be the underdogs, but I would say the others all see us as the underdog. We don’t have any problem with that. It was the same last season. We just focus on ourselves.
“For me there is more pressure on the other teams. That is when being the underdog is quite positive. No one really expects something from you. That can help.
“Huddersfield has a big history, but if you compare us to other Premier League teams we are the underdogs. We know how to deal with it and I am sure that can help us.”
Town had been hoping to head to St James’ Park buoyed by a decent return from back-to-back home games against fellow strugglers Swansea City and Crystal Palace.
Instead, the two fixtures yielded just a point meaning the recent international break was timely.
“After (losing 2-0 to) Palace, it was really important to switch off,” added Quaner. “It is why I went to Barcelona with my girlfriend.
“In football you must have a balance – you cannot just train, train, train and focus only on football.
“Sometimes you also have to think about something else. You need to get your head free so it was important to get away.
“I relaxed a lot and tried to get some of the weather. We also took a look at a few things and just relaxed. Personally I can definitely switch off when there are a few days off. Now, though, we are ready to get back to the football.”