ANDY Taylor, the Sheffield United full-back, has revealed his fear that he would never walk again after suffering a knee ligament injury – admitting: “It has been the hardest time of my life”.
The 25-year-old left-back admitted to shedding a tear when the full extent of the injury, to his lateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament, was explained to him.
But, over seven months on from the injury sustained in the Boxing Day clash with Hull City at Bramall Lane, Taylor is back running – albeit only in straight lines – and is setting his sights on a return to action in November.
“It’s been the worst year of my life,” the former Tranmere Rovers man told The Telegraph.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating and annoying – I find it so hard to sit watching the lads on a Saturday, and not be able to get out there myself.
“There have been times when I couldn’t imagine ever walking or running properly again, never mind play professional football again. It’s such a serious injury, and there are no guarantees.
“All you can do is work hard, listen to what the people in the know are telling you, and hope everything works out. When I first went to London to see the specialist, he told me that my career would be over without this operation – which really told me I was in serious trouble.
“He also told me that if I had sustained the injury ten years ago, before things had advanced medically, my career would have been over.”
Former Blackburn Rovers trainee Taylor arrived at Bramall Lane in July 2009, signing from Tranmere for an undisclosed fee.
“I would sum up my time at Sheffield United so far as being very stop start and frustrating,” he added.
“I’ve struggled to get the chance of a sustained run in the team, due to injury or non-selection.
“I arrived at Sheffield United knowing all about the club’s stature and history, because I’m a massive football fan and it’s a very traditional English club – a club that belongs in the top flight of English football.”
Next season, however, Taylor and United find themselves in English football’s third tier, following their relegation to npower League One last term – a situation the defender describes as “disastrous”.
“I arrived with strong ambitions of reaching the Premier League with United, so it’s a massive shock to everyone involved that we find ourselves in the position we are in,” he added.
“But we have to accept it, roll our sleeves up and get on with getting the club back where it belongs.”
And, having also played in League One for Huddersfield, Blackpool and Crewe, Taylor is perfectly placed to assess United’s chances of winning promotion at the first attempt.
“From a personal point of view, I’ve just got to focus on my rehabilitation and work hard so I can play football again. Hopefully I can return with much of the season left, and help the promotion push,” he said.
“But League One is renowned for being a very tough league to get out of, and it will be a very long and difficult season. Sheffield United is a massive club, and other teams will look on games against us as a chance to prove themselves, so they’ll raise their games against us.
“We expect this, and we have to be able to deal with it. “It’s a long, physically demanding season, and a lot of games will be played in short periods of time.
“But we have to be targeting promotion straight back to The Championship.
“It will be tough, and we have no God-given right to bounce straight back, but I believe we have the squad, staff and belief to do it.”