Leaving Leyton Orient was the hardest decision of my career, admits popular midfielder Michael Collins
PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 January 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
The former Huddersfield Town ace discusses rejecting a new contract from the O’s and why he expects the club to return to the Football League soon
Former Leyton Orient midfielder Michael Collins has admitted leaving the club in the summer was probably the hardest decision he has had to make in his playing career.
The midfielder joined the O’s in October 2016 and impressed during an otherwise terrible season for the team.
After relegation to the National League was confirmed in April, Collins was offered a new deal by old owner Francesco Becchetti.
With Nigel Travis and Kent Teague yet to complete their takeover by June 9, and with the Italian still in charge of the club, the 31-year-old made the decision to reject a new contract from Orient.
Collins went on to retire soon after and accepted a role as Bradford City’s under-18 manager before he dusted off his boots again in December after signing a playing contract with Halifax Town which allowed him to play alongside coaching the Bantams youth.
But when reflecting on the decision to turn down an offer to stay at O’s, he said: “It was probably the hardest decision of my career in the summer because it is no secret I was in talks with Martin Ling and Leyton Orient (before June 9) about potentially staying there.
“It was something I gave serious thought to because it is a great club and there is no denying that. In my opinion it is easily one of the best in the Conference.
“As I said last season, we shouldn’t be talking about them being in the Conference, but it was obviously an unfortunate series of events which happened during a sad period for the club.
“I do think over time the club will end up back in League One and pushing for the Championship because it is that type of club and when I speak to people at Halifax everyone classes Leyton Orient as a big club.
“The unfortunate thing you get when you drop down to levels like the Conference is the size of your club doesn’t carry any kind of stature and it is a very difficult league.
“As Leyton Orient have found this season, there is no easy game and I’ve noticed that in my six or seven games so far,
“So, it is a challenging league and they didn’t get off to the best of starts, but it is good they have steadied the ship now and picked up some good results.
“It looks like they are heading in the right direction which is the most pleasing thing for everyone after such a troubled time.”
Collins built up a great rapport with the Orient fans during his short stay in E10 with many appreciating his commitment in tough times.
On a number of occasions the former Scunthorpe United captain played through the pain despite O’s relegation being all but confirmed.
It didn’t go unnoticed by the Orient supporters who now hold Collins in the highest of regard despite him only playing 31 times for the club.
The former O’s midfielder isn’t part of the set-up at Brisbane Road anymore, but he is thrilled to see good people running it again.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time down there and that’s what made my decision in the summer even harder,” said Collins.
“Leyton Orient’s a great club with a great fanbase and loyal fans, who got put through everything last season and still turned up in their thousands on a weekly basis to show support to the players and that will never be forgotten.
“It is testament to the supporters and the people they are and that’s why I think long-term the club will definitely return to where it should be and hopefully lessons will be learned from that period and it will never happen to the club again.
“It does look like they have the right owners in place now and they will take the club forward and have the club and the supporters’ best interests at heart and that’s the most important thing.
“Obviously it is quite clear under the last regime that wasn’t the case and that’s sad because players come, coaches come and chairman come, but we all go and the ones who are always left are the fans and it is nice there is finally some ownership in place that puts them above everybody else.”