David Meyler: 'I'm here to get Hull City back in the Premier League'
DAVID Meyler will line up in Hull City's midfield at Peterborough United this afternoon unable to boast the artistry of Robert Koren or the natural poise of Stephen Quinn.
But when it comes to focus and determination, Meyler unwittingly has the powers to make team-mates appear very ordinary.
Adversity is to thank for that.
Two cruciate ligament operations could have ended his career before it had begun at Sunderland, but the career-threatening injuries have helped instil an indomitable fight deep within Meyler.
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"It's not complicated," he says. "Most people should know what they want.
"I know what I want and I set out to achieve it. I won't stop until I get it.
"I'm here to play football and get this team back in the Premier League. I'm determined to do that.
"Every player out there representing Hull City should be on the same wavelength as I am. You should go out and give it everything that you have."
Such rhetoric is a snapshot of the man but Meyler has an engaging tale to tell of a journey that led towards a £1.5m move to the KC Stadium last week.
After turning down a schoolboy move to Nottingham Forest on the gentle instruction of his parents, the teenage Meyler continued his education while on Cork City's books.
A move to Sunderland, where he was spotted by childhood hero Roy Keane, was eventually a reward for his resolve at 19.
"My parents weren't too pushed on me going to Nottingham Forest," he said. "They were more interested in my education.
"I'd go to school every morning from 8.40am and 10am, then I'd go train with Cork City from 10.30am until 1pm, then back to school until 6pm. I used to do that three or four times a week.
"My Dad reckons that if I'd have gone to England at 16 I would have been one of those players that came back a few years later.
"I wasn't mature. I was a young idiot more or less. I was too hyper. But I grew up fairly lively when I was 18 and 19 and I went to Sunderland."
Two sickening knee injuries, the first in May 2010 and the second in January 2011, soon stymied his development on Wearside. Lesser characters may have fled back home but, as Steve Bruce observed at first-hand, fortitude is Meyler's unswerving ally.
"It does test you mentally and physically, that's for sure," said Meyler.
"It is a hard road when you're out for nine months but there's tests in life that make you stronger.
"There was talk that the damage could have been so bad that I might not have been back for about two years.
"I just asked the surgeon if I could play again and he said 'yeah' and I knew from there that I had to do everything in my own power to get back to where I was."
Meyler admits an appreciation for his profession came from his extended spells in the wilderness. He was known to be a regular face among Sunderland's travelling support and continues to credit his former club with a priceless role in his recovery.
There is also endless thanks for his father, John.
Just as he has come to expect, Meyler will see his Dad make the journey from Cork to England this morning. A short flight into London will be followed by a drive up to Peterborough. For his sake, if no-one else's, it is hoped the fixture avoids postponement.
"He's at the game as usual," says Meyler. "He's a big part of my life. Always has been.
"After every day at school he would have me outside practising. If I wanted to be the best, I had to practice.
"That stuff rubs off on you and you set high standards for yourself. He's been a fantastic help to me and a great driving force.
"He rings me before I go to bed and says 'Maybe you could do this or that better, I like what you did there…'
"He's not only a father, he's a close friend. He's a teacher and I've grown up to be like him.
"No matter where the game is I'll just leave one ticket for him and I know he'll be there."
City have a new die-hard and, more importantly, a midfield presence manager Steve Bruce believes they have lacked during his first season as boss.
Aggression, drive and mobility all rank highly in Meyler's game and convinced his former Sunderland boss into pledging the £1.5m needed to turn his loan into a permanent stay.
Meyler's influence on his new club cannot be ignored. During the seven starts of his loan spell, the Tigers enjoyed the longest unbeaten run of their bright season. The midfielder's three goals, including a memorable header in the demolition of Leeds, were also invaluable.
In a performance he describes as sloppy, a 3-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend was the first time Meyler has been on the losing side when starting in black and amber. He does not envisage a repeat today.
A first league win of 2013 will be targeted if Peterborough's London Road pitch beats the freezing temperatures, the next step on a road mapped out with perfect clarity.
Meyler added: "I want to be playing Premier League football in six months. I'm not thinking about doing it over three and a half years of my contract, I'm looking at the next 19 games.
"I want to be targeting another 40 points or more to make sure Hull City are in the Premier League next season. That's the reason why I signed.
"It's also the reason why the manager took over. If he didn't think he could take this club to the Premier League, he wouldn't be here.
"We all need to put in the effort every week to make sure that happens."
There's that determination again. Unavoidable.