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West Ham’s Collison is Jack the lad again but this time as a coach

PUBLISHED: 13:30 11 October 2017

Jack Collison the West Ham under-16 coach

Jack Collison the West Ham under-16 coach

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Former Hammers star is rebuilding his football career after terrible injury

West Ham United's Jack Collison (left) and Manchester City's Gael Clichy in action West Ham United's Jack Collison (left) and Manchester City's Gael Clichy in action

Jack Collison is back at West Ham and he is smiling again and though he can no longer show what he can do on the pitch, he is doing the next best thing.

The former Wales international just turned 29 and would be close to his footballing peak, but a serious knee injury ended his career and he last played for the Hammers back in January 2014.

Watching Wales in their World Cup qualifier this week brings it all back.

“It does affect you,” he admitted. “Especially during the European Championships where I was so close to it.

Wales Jack Collison gets away from Republic of Ireland's Marc Wilson during the International Friendly at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. Wales Jack Collison gets away from Republic of Ireland's Marc Wilson during the International Friendly at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff.

“There was this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that I could have been part of it.

“I came through the under-21s with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, who have done so well at senior level, so it has been tough at times.

“I was so excited to see them in the Euros, but devastated to see them not quite do it this week.”

Collison admits that he has been in some very dark places while injured, but he feels that has helped him in his new role as the lead coach for West Ham under-16s.

West Ham United's Jack Collison celebrates scoring their opening goal against Stoke City with Andy Carroll during the Barclays Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke. West Ham United's Jack Collison celebrates scoring their opening goal against Stoke City with Andy Carroll during the Barclays Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke.

“I was very unlucky to get all the injuries, but it was during those times that I developed coping mechanisms,” he said.

“I found ways to keep myself busy and keep myself active and ultimately it was ways to keep going without getting too sucked down into the negativity.

“Thankfully, through that I have really developed as a person off the pitch. I have had to grow up very quickly and that is what I look to continue as a coach.

“I have never worried about the what ifs. At Peterborough I put my heart and soul into trying to come back, I have seen the best specialists in the world and now I can draw a line under it.”

Jack Collison the lead under-16 coach at West Ham Jack Collison the lead under-16 coach at West Ham

It is those experiences he is bringing to his new job, though he sometimes gets a wake-up call.

“It is quite funny because football is quick to forget, so I think half of them don’t realise that I ever played!” he laughs.

“I think I experienced every possible emotion as a player; relegation, promotion, being in and out of the team and of course injury.

“If a player is injured, I can honsestly look him in the eye and say I have sat where you are now. I know what it takes to get to the next level.”

It is a great new career for the former Hammer, who played over 100 games for the club, but he freely admits it is not like being out there and playing.

“There is no better job in the world than going out there and playing football and to not be able to do what you love is frustrating,” said.

“But the knee still gives me a lot of aggro, some mornings it is very sore still. This is the next best thing and I am enjoying the day to day work and getting out on to the training pitch again.”

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