HULL CITY top scorer Jarrod Bowen has revealed how advice from Ryan Mason over the past few months has helped turn him into one of the Championship’s star performers.
The Tigers’ record £13m signing was forced to retire earlier this week on medical advice after suffering a fractured skull at Chelsea 13 months ago.
Hull are back at Stamford Bridge tonight in the FA Cup fifth round and Bowen admits it will be an emotional occasion following Tuesday’s parting of the ways with Mason.
“When it happened, down by the away end, we were in the dugout,” said the 21-year-old, an unused substitute that afternoon as Mason was left with a life-threatening injury by an accidental collision with Gary Cahill.
“When you see it, you just think it is a little clash of heads. But then it started to get more serious. The medical team were shouted on, so then you realise that something is not right.
“It affected the whole team. We were in at full-time asking how he was. For me, especially when I was that age, I had never seen anything like it. ‘Mase’ has been a top lad with me, and I have spoken to him a lot.
He was gutted, we were all gutted. But he was saying, mainly to the young lads, keep enjoying it every day because that is what matters.Jarrod Bowen
“He has been good for my development. He is a top professional. I spoke to him on Tuesday night and I am sure I will stay in contact with him as well. He said, ‘Enjoy it, keep doing what you are doing and keep your attitude up’.
“Ryan is an inspiration. He gave a speech (to the Hull squad) about how he felt the decision was right for him.
“He was gutted, we were all gutted. But he was saying, mainly to the young lads, keep enjoying it every day because that is what matters. You have got to come in and enjoy it every day otherwise you are not in the right industry.”
Amid what has been a desperately disappointing return to the Championship for Hull, Bowen has been a shining light.
His 12 league goals make the former Hereford United trainee the joint fourth highest scorer in the Championship.
Bowen also has an FA Cup goal to his name from the fourth-round victory over Nottingham Forest and he is hoping to add to that tally tonight.
It will not be easy, of course, with Chelsea being the reigning champions and the Cup being their best hope of silverware this term. Hull’s failure to win at the Bridge in 22 previous visits hardly bodes well, either.
Nevertheless, Bowen is hoping to help Hull spring an upset in a competition in which he had not featured until last month’s third-round tie at Blackburn Rovers.
“The biggest memory I have of the FA Cup isn’t through playing,” he added. “Instead, I was watching Manchester United play Portsmouth and my little sister was born on that day.
“I was watching the FA Cup game and then dad came running in, turning the telly off. I looked him like, ‘Are you all right?’
“The next thing I know he is chucking me in the back of the car saying, ‘Your sister is being born, we have got to go’. That is the memory (of the FA Cup) that stands out mainly.
“Otherwise, I was at a tie between Hereford and Shrewsbury once. Back home that is a big derby. I think Sam Clucas played and we won. Then there was the 2014 final (for Hull) against Arsenal.
“Hereford’s season had finished and my move (to Hull) was already going through. Me and my dad were Hull fans for 90 minutes.”
Michael Dawson (groin) faces a late fitness test after missing the last two games while defensive trio Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori and Michael Hector are out due to being unable to face parent club Chelsea in the Cup.
Last six games: Chelsea WLWLLW Hull City DLWDLW.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).
Last time: Chelsea 2 Hull City 0; January 22, 2017; Premier League.