Collins happy with his choice
FOOTBALL or university?For brain box and highly-rated centre-half Aidan Collins there was no contest, writes Derek Davis.Even in the dark days of injury, illness and loss of form, the Harlow-born defender never regretted a moment of signing for Ipswich Town as a 15-year-old.
FOOTBALL or university?
For brain box and highly-rated centre-half Aidan Collins there was no contest, writes Derek Davis.
Even in the dark days of injury, illness and loss of form, the Harlow-born defender never regretted a moment of signing for Ipswich Town as a 15-year-old.
Plucked from obscurity, Collins made his Town debut when he went on as a substitute in the last game of the 2002-2003 season at Derby County.
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The distractions took their toll on his schoolwork though, and he had to drop a couple of subjects.
In the end he finished with nine GCSE's, two with A-stars, and a B. Not bad for a player who was also trying to adjust to life as a professional footballer training on a daily basis.
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Bright and articulate, Collins described how things started to go horribly wrong just weeks after making his league debut at Pride Park at the age of 16.
He said: “It was really difficult because I missed virtually the whole of pre-season that summer when I had two bouts of tonsilitis and in the end it was decided to take them out.
“That hit me for six but the whole operation and the time off, coupled with no pre-season, meant it took far longer to get back to full fitness and my form suffered due to that.
“Mentally it was tough to deal with. People had told me it was going to be hard anyway as it was my first full season but I never realised just how tough it would be.
“Then I got an ankle injury and even though I got back I never got a run of games.”
In a way that black spell actually helped him and when the same ankle went again - this time the ligament ruptured - Collins was prepared mentally for what was needed to recover.
He has come back fitter and psychologically stronger but he admits he could not have done it on his own.
“Matt Byard was brilliant with me. He spent a lot of time working on my rehabilitation to make sure there would be no recurrence of the injury. It would have been harder without him.
“Then there was Simon Thadani, who helped me with my fitness training. He did a lot of work with me and I have seen the benefits of all those hours.”
Along with a good pre-season Collins was able to find his form quickly and was rewarded when good reserve-team outings saw him drafted into the first-team squad.
He said: “Getting a decent run of games has helped me. Personally I feel I have been playing well, although there are still a lot of things I can improve on.”
Although he has been on the bench this season he has yet to make his second Town appearance, but he is ready for the call should it come.
He said: “Fitness-wise I'm as fit as anyone in the squad. Playing well in the reserves has boosted my confidence and being involved with the squad gives you a lift.
“Even like being the 17th man at Leicester, it was good to be involved and I get really excited at games.”
Jason De Vos' broken bones have so often raised hopes for Collins that he may get a call.
He admits: “You always think you might be in with a chance of playing. Sometimes I have to calm myself down and not get too excited. It is a case of being patient and waiting for the right time.”
Collins, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Monday, is on the bench again today at Watford.
But he is still glad that it was football he chose.