Out of options, no way to turn and facing a ‘bleak’ future... but Huws never lost hope and has found light at the end of a dark road
- Credit: Archant
Emyr Huws has endured an injury nightmare since suffering a knee problem in December 2017 but is now firmly back on track. ANDY WARREN spoke to him about what has been a tough journey back to fitness.
It's clear as Emyr Huws sits down in a blue-clad meeting room at Ipswich Town's training base that the Welshman is in a good place.
Having just walked off the Playford Road pitches following a wet and muddy session with his team-mates, he's smiling and looking to the future.
He's training every day and is feeling better than he has in years. But we all know how long a road it's been to reach this point.
Rewind to February and the 26-year-old didn't know which way to turn. His career was on the line and at a cross-roads and, having already been out for more than a year following a nasty knee injury suffered in December 2017, all options appeared to have been exhausted.
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Though the signs may have been worryingly pointing that way, he hadn't seriously contemplated retirement even though, by his own admission, he's a realist by nature who borders on pessimism. Many others surely would have feared the worst, after attempted comebacks repeatedly failed and the light at the end of the tunnel was becoming more and more distant. But Huws remained hopeful.
And that hope has been rewarded with a prolonged period of fitness which seemed so far away, just a few short months ago.
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"It's been a very tough couple of years so to be where I am now is incredible," he said.
"I'd always hoped I'd get to this point, which is why I kept on going, because there were times when it was looking quite bleak to be honest. There was probably one time when we had saturated all options and I still wasn't able to train.
"It was so hard because I was doing everything I could. Everything in my life was all about trying to get fit and that can impact things off the pitch too. I've had my fiancée stand by me and she's been amazing. It's been tough for her too.
"I've been like the most depressed man around the club. It was so grey. It wasn't even black or white it was just in the grey zone. I was just stuck in the middle, in a no man's land, and nobody knew what was going on. I just tried my best and hoped.
"I'm quite a pessimistic guy but I am realistic about things. But I'm also positive and I know what I can do so, because of that, I never really took too much thought about retirement. But there was a time when the question was 'what do we do now?' - which lasted for about a month. There wasn't really an answer and that was really worrying."
Thankfully, after much searching, an answer did arrive. It's allowed the midfielder to train with his team-mates every day, complete pre-season and continue strongly into competitive action. He's featured seven times already this season, having previously only played in five games since making a successful loan permanent in the summer of 2017.
It's clear he's learnt a lot from his past, learning those lessons the hard way, which will help shape what's to come in his career. He is now squarely looking to the future.
"We took a new approach and it needed to be 'less is more' and doing a lot of work in the gym," he said. "I've always done that but this was slightly different work and what my knee needed.
"I had surgery on my knee and it went absolutely fine, I was just struggling to cope with the load on it. Once it got stronger it's been a lot easier.
"So to turn that corner has been big, which hasn't happened until recently. I've been on the biggest bend ever. I'm still getting there fitness-wise and I wouldn't say I'm 100 per cent fit but I'm in a place where I can perform. It's great after so long.
"I'm really grateful for everything everyone at the club has done for me because it's been a tough couple of years.
"Everyone's always been there for me; the gaffer (Paul Lambert), Stu (Taylor, assistant), the staff. The medical staff have all been amazing for me and I'm so grateful. I can't thank them enough.
"It's allowed me to get to this place where I can train every day. I actually feel better now than when I joined the club a couple of years ago.
"Even a few years ago when I was fully fit I used to struggle to train every day. I always train how I play, which is probably a bit of a downfall for me because I always give my all. Sometimes I have to put the reins on.
"Now I'm actually at a point where I can train as I play and still train every day, which is great for me.
"There's still so much more to come which I'm really excited about. I am not the kind of person who likes to blow their own trumpet but I'm in a place where I feel I can get stronger and stronger rather than playing a game and then regressing, like I was before.
"That's a really nice feeling."
Huws is now determined to ensure his career is not defined by his two-year injury nightmare and become a central part of a successful Ipswich Town team, just as his aim was when he originally moved to Suffolk in 2017.
"The goal in the last month has been to sustain fitness but now it's about contributing and winning games," he said. "I want to do that more and more.
"I've been working a lot on everything and feel really well in myself. I want to contribute with goals and assists - all the things I feel I should be doing.
"Of course that's the aim now. I'm keen to make up for lost time and repay the faith people have shown in me and be successful here.
"I want to be here for the foreseeable future and be successful. That's the goal.
"I've learnt so much about myself, about my body, and now I feel like I'm on the right track to fly. I feel like I will do soon."
HUWS' MESSAGE TO THE IPSWICH TOWN FANS
"The support I get on social media is incredible. Those fans won't know how much people can appreciate that at tough times.
"I'll be forever thankful to them for that and I want to repay them with good performances and results. I'll always give my best for the club because I love living here and love the atmosphere around the town. Everyone loves the club and there's a nice feel to it.
"The fans are class and have been so kind to me. I'll be forever grateful.
"The club, everyone at the club including the fans, have supported me which has been incredible because when people just see you missing game after game and having set-back after set-back, people must question what's going on.
"It's been a nightmare but I've learnt so much. I'd have obviously preferred to have played but there have been some really important lessons along the way."