Former Leeds United player Robert Snodgrass has a new outlook on life as he makes his comeback with Hull City. Richard Sutcliffe reports.
THE dislocated kneecap that cost Robert Snodgrass 464 days of his career never came close to breaking the resilience that had seen the Scot overcome a difficult start to make the grade as a footballer.
But such a serious injury did leave him feeling very low. Never more so than virtually a year ago, when the monotony of rehab and a perceived lack of progress along the road back to fitness hit the Hull City midfielder hard.
“The lowest moment was around about Christmas time,” said the 28-year-old to The Yorkshire Post when speaking yesterday at City’s Cottingham training ground. “I was four or five months into rehab and doing the same thing every day. Things didn’t seem to be happening.
“Normal injuries such as hamstring or calf bring progress very quickly. But I was not seeing anything.
“I wanted to be part of what is always the busiest time but, obviously, couldn’t. It was difficult and I think people at the club saw that.
“It was then that the club suggested I go back to Scotland for a month. The manager told me to get myself away and do the rehab at Hampden. Something different was needed because I was in here every day.
“The change of scenery worked a treat. It was a chance to see all my family and I came back down after three or four weeks with a smile on my face.”
Snodgrass suffered the freak injury just 40 minutes into his Premier League debut for the Tigers following a £7m switch from Norwich City.
Today, the wideman sports a knee support that has the look of a spider’s web as he continues a recovery that is far from over despite last Tuesday’s return to action from the bench in the Capital One Cup quarter-final exit at Manchester City.
“The dark times are the ones that drive you on,” said the Scot, who after making his professional debut in Livingston colours at 16 lost his way for a spell and ended up on loan at part-time Stirling Albion.
“You don’t want to be back at those dark points so when there is stuff that needs to be done rehab-wise before or after training, you do it. And you do it with a smile on your face.
“Basically, I am still in rehab. And I will be in rehab for a few more years to come, too. I want to make things right.
“It was such a nasty injury that came out of absolutely nothing. Probably from years of build-up, loading the knee in different ways without realising it.
“Those dark times never came close to breaking me. There are more important things in life than not being able to play football.
“I didn’t take football for granted when younger but you do get built up from a young age to believe you are unbreakable.
“You can fly into a tackle, you can go by someone, you can score a goal – you do that by believing you are the best.
“A bit like a boxer, in that he has to believe he is the best or he will never beat an opponent. That is exactly the way I felt every time I entered the training ground. Or the park, believing I could beat my opponent.
“Now, after what I have been through, I see football as a bonus. Life moves on, football or not. The players were still preparing for games even though Robert Snodgrass was injured. Slowly but surely, you get your head round that.”
Hull’s travails in his absence did hit Snodgrass hard. Relegation, when confirmed on the final day of last season, was as rough for the Scot as anyone at the KC Stadium.
But, amid that sense of frustration and disappointment, Snodgrass realised he had other fights to win.
“In life, you have to accept the things you can’t affect. And I couldn’t affect what was happening last season.
“It was weird in many ways. That day against Manchester United when we were relegated, I was kicking every ball and cheering everyone on. And I was really upset when we went down.
“But then, at the final whistle, I thought, ‘I have got rehab again in the morning’. I couldn’t allow myself to feel sorry or down.”