The 24-year-old midfielder is almost certain to start in Hull City’s first FA Cup final against Arsenal on Saturday, a shade over four years since suffering the first of two serious knee injuries that threatened to wreck his career.
Meyler, who had moved to Roy Keane’s Sunderland from Cork City in 2008, was pushing to establish himself in the first team under Steve Bruce, now his manager at Hull, when hesuffered the first blow.
It came against Manchester United in May 2010, when Meyler was stretchered off and diagnosed with cruciate ligament damage.
The prognosis for recovery was 12 months but Meyler returned after seven months.
He managed only five more appearances, however, before injury struck again, in the same knee, his right. This time it was his medial ligament.
“I was told I might never walk properly again,” Meyler said.
“That gives you a bit of context, to play in an FA Cup final — I don’t know if I will be playing yet, obviously — but to have the opportunity would be fantastic.
“I had made a right mess of my leg, I would not be right for a long time.
“The first time was that bad, the second time felt like someone had broken my fingernail but it was the same length of time I needed after the first one. It was long time ago now.”
Steve Bollen, a surgeon based in Bingley, West Yorkshire, operated both times and Meyler is grateful in this week more than ever.
“He did a fantastic job on both for me, so I have to thank him for looking after me,” Meyler said.
“I would not say it drives me on but I appreciate the small things a lot more.
“When you spend 18 months out injured it is never nice. When you are training every day you relish it andenjoy it.
“I look at a couple of players in our squad who have not been as lucky as me to play so many games this season and I think ‘I have been in your situation, I know what you are going through. Keep your heads down and keep working hard, don’t rush and when you are ready you will know and you will be called upon, with the physios here, who are top lads, you will get back’.”
Meyler has featured in all five rounds Hull have come through to reach the final, but there was another, more recent, incident that left Meyler worried about whether he would feature.
He was caught on camera appearing to stamp on Adnan Januzaj, the Manchester United winger, at Old Trafford on May 6. For an agonising 18 hours or so, Meyler feared retrospective punishment and a ban that would rule him out of the final.
Luckily for the Ireland international, referee Craig Pawson reported he had seen the incident, meaning the FA could take no further action.
“The referee has seen it and realised there was no malice in it,” Meyler said. “Of course there was a worry and some anxiety. Sometimes things can be taken the wrong way or over the line but it is all done and dusted now and I can look forward to the Cup final. To have the opportunity to play would be fantastic. It will be a remarkable day for me and the family, all the other players and their families and the manager. It will be fantastic day out and I believe we are going to win it and, please God, we will.”
Meyler also insists the news that Arsenal are already planning their victory parade has gifted the Tigers an extra incentive to win on Saturday. Traffic notices in north London make clear the Gunners are expecting to show off the trophy in an open-top bus tour around Islington the day after the final on Sunday.
But Meyler is adamant the Tigers will revel in their role as underdogs — and could not resist a stark reminder to Arsene Wenger’s men over their distinct lack of opportunities for victory parades in recent seasons.
Meyler said: “Nobody expects us to win it and obviously they haven’t won a trophy in nine years and they’ve got their posters up in London about their parade next week and credit to them.
“I’d rather be the underdog. People are delighted when the underdog wins — I don’t think many people want Arsenal to win.
“The pressure is all on them to win it. We have not been given a chance in the last two years — we were not favourites to go up last year and we were favourites to go down this year.
“But being the underdog isn’t the worst thing in the world and we’ve just got to use it to our advantage. Nobody expected Wigan to win it last year but they made it difficult for Manchester City the whole game and they deserved to win it.
“It gives great hope for all of us, and you can also look at Sunderland and the teams they beat in the League Cup. It just shows it is 11 against 11 and if you want it more than the fellows you are up against then you can win.”