Advertisement
Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Richard Sellers/PA Wire/Press Association Images
# REBEL WITH A CAUSE
"I remember saying to myself: 'This boy is going to be a player'"
Cork City’s first-team coach Billy Woods has fond memories of David Meyler.

Billy Woods remembers it well.

“My first impression of David Meyler was when I saw him play with the Cork City youth team in 2006. He was a centre-half with a shaved-head, tall, very athletic and aggressive. I remember saying to myself, ‘This boy is going to be a player’.”

It wasn’t long before the youngster was promoted to the senior squad and Woods got to see Meyler close up. In early 2008, Alan Matthews replaced Damien Richardson as the Leesider’s manager and eighteen year-old Meyler was granted an opportunity to impress. He didn’t disappoint, as Woods recalls.

“He played on the right side and would get up and down that pitch all day long for you. He didn’t play that many games but was physically strong and so versatile – he could play right back, centre-half, right midfield, centre-mid.”

Meyler has previously confessed to having been a little wild as a young player and Woods remembers the temper too.

“Playing in the youth teams, he used to get sent-off on numerous occasions and had run-ins with one referee down here all the time. But it was probably just a little bit of immaturity.”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Hull City v Liverpool - KC Stadium Richard Sellers / EMPICS Sport Richard Sellers / EMPICS Sport / EMPICS Sport

The aggression has been more of a help than a hindrance, though. Woods repeatedly refers to how competitive Meyler was as a youth, that despite a glittering array of experienced, high-profile stars around him, he was never over-awed and relished the challenge of being part of such an impressive dressing-room.

Talented young players always come through the club and you never know, really. But there was something about him. When he was brought into the senior squad initially, he was competing with Gareth Farrelly, Joe Gamble and Colin Healy so he was never likely to play in the middle of midfield. But, he came back the following season and he had got bigger, he’d developed and you just knew.”

Others knew too. Within a few months of his senior City debut, Meyler was snapped up by Roy Keane and signed a three-year deal with Sunderland. The following season, he made his first Premier League start in a 2-2 draw away to Blackburn. And then it all changed.

“When he went over initially, everything went great for him and then he did his cruciate ligament twice. To come back from that just shows the physical and mental strength he has.”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Hull City - Old Trafford Nigel French / EMPICS Sport Nigel French / EMPICS Sport / EMPICS Sport

The injury nightmare is now behind him. The move to Hull has been the ideal rehabilitation and he’s flourished under Steve Bruce. For Woods, Meyler has built on the solid foundation of his Cork City days and developed the characteristics that first marked him out for inevitable success.

He’s physically strong, fast, a powerful runner. Those are the same attributes he had as a kid. I think his passing has improved hugely and it’s a very under-rated part of his game. He’s had to curtail things slightly because of the injuries he’s suffered. But, when you look at the shoulders, his body, the fact he’s 6’2″ - physically, he’s a specimen.”

Exclusive Six
Nations Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring

Become a Member

Cork City are never too far from Meyler’s thoughts. Last night, as he probably should’ve been focusing intently on today’s Cup final, he took some time to post a message to Twitter.

MeylerTweet

City have a proud record of developing young players and watching them flourish in bigger and better environments. But Meyler, in particular, has never forgotten his roots and constantly visits the team whenever he’s home. He’s always remained grateful for the role City played in his career and Woods feels it’s a testament to the type of guy Meyler is.

He’ll come down and watch us train with his Dad or he’ll turn up to a game. That’s great to see. You’re certainly proud of what he’s achieved, it’s great to see him do so well and you really want him to lift the Cup at Wembley.”

 ‘It’s something you’ll never beat’ – Keith Fahey looks back on his big day at Wembley

Arsenal and Hull fans will hold a minute’s applause in the 56th minute of today’s FA Cup Final