ERIK DURM’S international breaks used to be spent with the Germany squad, his winners’ medal from the 2014 World Cup an indication as to just how highly regarded he became by Joachim Low.
Today, however, as the national team starts preparations for next Sunday’s friendly with Peru in Hoffenheim, the full-back will be relaxing at home in Germany with family and friends.
Durm has earned that downtime after a hellish few years that have seen his career put on hold by injury after injury.
Two knee operations, surgery on his hip and, most recently in January, torn ankle ligaments led eventually to a parting of the ways from Borussia Dortmund and a surprise move to Huddersfield Town.
David Wagner’s presence at the John Smith’s Stadium was the big attraction, the pair having previously worked together at Dortmund.
The Town chief promised to manage Durm’s recovery carefully and such an approach has paid off with the £1m summer signing now back in action after 16 months out.
We played a very good game. We did what the coaches told us to do. We had a good plan and our defence was strong. There were some good moments in front of the Everton goal and we can be happy with a point.Erik Durm
“Injuries are the worst thing for a player,” the defender told The Yorkshire Post after making his Premier League bow as a substitute in Huddersfield’s battling draw at Everton.
“The last three years have been very difficult, not just the 16 months. I had three big injuries. So, for me, this is a new start and I have come here to work hard and be healthy.
“Sixteen months out for a football player is the worst you can have. You want to play, you want to train and you want to have good results.
“You want to have a strong bond with the team but when you are out for such a long time it is horrible. My family kept me going.
“It was a hard time and a rough time for them as well. They knew how I was and that I was finding it very difficult.
“They supported me. I have had so many messages from my friends. My family were also here and I could see how they were happy.
“Now, we have some days off and I can go home. Enjoy the time and then we try to get our first three points.”
Durm’s impressive cameo, coming on the back of playing 75 minutes in last Tuesday’s Carabao Cup second round defeat at Stoke City, was one of several encouraging aspects of the trip to Goodison Park.
At a ground where their last win had come in 1937, the Terriers arrived with a clear game-plan of trying to contain Everton with banks of five and four at the back.
Then, to try and hit their hosts on the break, while also capitalising on what had been a clear vulnerability at set-pieces during Marco Silva’s first three games.
Wagner’s meticulous planning came to fruition on 34 minutes. Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen was the intended target for an inswinging corner from Chris Lowe.
But, instead, Dominic Calvert-Lewin helped the ball on and Philip Billing headed past Jordan Pickford from six yards out.
For the first time this season, Huddersfield had the lead. It lasted, however, just 87 seconds with Calvert-Lewin atoning for his unwitting role in the opener by converting an excellent cross from Lucas Digne.
The reply had been so swift, the travelling Town fans were still mocking their Everton counterparts with the chant, ‘How s*** must you be, we’re winning away’ as the ball flew into the net via Jonas Lossl’s right hand.
After that, chances proved as hard to come by as had been the case before Billing’s debut Premier League goal.
Substitute Ademola Lookman, the highly-regarded winger who impressed hugely on loan at RB Leipzig earlier this year, did find sufficient space on the Town left in the second half to drill a low cross that just evaded the on-rushing Gylfi Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin at the back post.
Cenk Tosun also headed over from a corner when well placed, and Rajiv Van la Parra fired wide for Town after excellent hold-up play from Steve Mounie.
Durm, on at right-back in place of Florent Hadergjonaj, had a late dart into the Everton penalty area but his cut-back for Mounie was anticipated by the impressive Kurt Zouma and cleared to safety.
It meant honours ended even at Goodison Park as Durm took an important step on the road to full recovery.
“Playing in the Premier League was a very special moment,” added the full-back, who has seven international caps to his name.
“I have had 16 months of injury, a very hard time. So, this has been a very good week for me. Not the result we wanted in the Cup but we were happy with the point against Everton.”
Durm, who passed his medical with “flying colours” according to Wagner before signing a one-year deal that Town can extend by an additional 12 months, added: “The club has been very good to me. It was right that I was not put in immediately. That was my problem in the last few years. I did it too early after my injuries.
“This year, it has been more of a plan and a process. The coaches and the staff have kept an eye on me all the time.
“We have built it up and now I am back. Everything was fine and I felt good on the pitch. I am very happy, and even happier we got a point.
“We played a very good game. We did what the coaches told us to do. We had a good plan and our defence was strong. There were some good moments in front of the Everton goal and we can be happy with a point.”