STEVEN REID has admitted he considered quitting soccer after a series of career threatening injuries.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder has been plagued by back and knee problems in recent seasons, which have stalled his opportunities for Blackburn Rovers and his country.
He revealed that the run of bad luck made him question his future in the game.
He said: ‘‘I think I’d be lying if I said I never thought about giving up in the deepest, darkest moments.
‘‘During those times the medical staff were absolutely brilliant with me, and knew when to give me a bit of time away from the gym.
“I think I’ve surprised myself in terms of how I’ve come through all the various setbacks and I now feel a lot better person for it.
“Now I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully over the next few weeks I can put myself in contention for a first-team return.’’
Reid feels he is entering “one of the biggest seasons” of his career as he bids to secure an international recall for next month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against world champions Italy and Montenegro at Croke Park.
The Rovers star missed most all of last season with a cruciate knee ligament problem and sustained a hamstring injury in his comeback game against Gillingham in the Carling Cup last month.
However, the 28-year-old scored his first goal in two years when he successfully came through a 70-minute runout for Rovers’ reserve team in Monday night’s 2-1 home defeat to Bolton.
Now he is determined to force his way into the club’s first team in order to prove his fitness for the crucial World Cup double-header on October 10 and 14.
“There are a few things to aim for,” he said. “I’ve got the Premier League with Blackburn, hopefully the World Cup next summer and if all goes well hopefully I will extend my stay here. I’ve just got this year left on my contract at Blackburn, so I’ve got a lot to prove.
“First and foremost I’m aiming to get back into the Blackburn team and if I do that hopefully I can get back into the Ireland squad.”
Given that Ireland will almost certainly have to negotiate a play-off to reach South Africa, Reid’s return to fitness is a massive and timely boost, particularly as neither his club-mate Keith Andrews or Manchester United’s Darron Gibson have convinced in central midfield alongside Glenn Whelan.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has been criticised for Ireland’s lack of guile in that department with many criticising the Italian’s refusal to play Andy Reid and his failure to convince Stephen Ireland to end his international exile.
Reid, however, has nothing but praise for Trapattoni: ‘‘I’ve really enjoyed playing for him, and his enthusiasm for the game has rubbed off on all of us, which is probably why I’ve enjoyed my best form for Ireland under him,’’ Reid said.
‘‘I’ve spoken to him regularly – and Liam Brady and Alan Kelly as well – to give them updates (on the injury situation).’’
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved