Kevin Deery might be out of contract but, in his heart, he is still a Derry City player.
The last two years have been bittersweet for the man the fans call ‘Deerso’.
Injuries limited Deery’s first team appearances in both 2012 and 2013 to approximately 30 but just over a year ago he lifted the FAI Cup trophy after Derry City beat St. Patrick’s Athletic in the Dublin showpiece.
Six weeks ago, Deery underwent what is known as knee microfracture surgery.
The process involves a small quarter inch incision on the knee and then, using a camera, the surgeon then uses a small pointed tool called an awl to make very small holes in the bone near the damaged knee cartilage. These are called microfractures.
The theory behind the operation is that the microfractures help to repair the cartilage around the knee.
“I’ve researched ‘microfractures’ on Google and YouTube.com - I am practically an expert on it now,” laughed Deery.
“Richard Steadman, the doctor who operated on Alan Shearer and Ruud Van Nistelrooy, invented the technique so hopefully it’ll be a success.”
It’s much too early for Deery to make predictions on where he will be next year but one thing is for sure, at the age of 28 he has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet.
“I believe I still have a lot to give - I am only 28 for God’s sake.
“My consultant in Belfast is really happy with how the knee operation went and I no longer have to use crutches.
“I’ve heard all of the names the fans have for me - ‘Sicknote’ is probably the most common one - but believe me when I say this, no-one is more bitterly disappointed that I haven’t been able to play as many games as I would have liked over the last few years.
“All you have to do is ask my friends when am I at my happiest and they’ll tell you it’s when I am playing football.
“Once I am able to start training again I am going to have to reassess how I look after my body physically.
“In the weeks and months leading up to the injury and the operation I would have been taking health and fitness classes at the Old Library Trust in Creggan or I would have pounded the back roads for a few miles. It’s only common sense, if I want to be back playing for Derry City or whoever, I have to be realistic.”
Deery hinted that another team have already started to make enquiries but he said no decision will be made on his future until he hears what the new manager of Derry City has to say.
“I’ve heard a few names mentioned. Roddy Collins, Peter Hutton and Martin Russell at UCD are all names that have been linked with the job but the appointment of a new manager has nothing to do with me - that’s up to the Board of Directors.
“Hopefully, once the new manager has been named I will know more about my own future.
“Aside from my wife and two children, playing for Derry City has been one of the most important and special things to ever happen to me.
“I am a Derry lad, born and bred, and lining out for your local team, whether that’s in the First Division, the League Cup, the league or the Europa League, nothing comes close to beating that feeling.
“I am confident that I still have plenty to offer Derry City in the future but like I said, it’s really down to what the new manager thinks.”
Two weeks ago, then manager, Declan Devine left Derry City by mutual consent.
Deery said, a few days after Devine’s departure, he texted his former boss to say that he was disappointed that he was unable to play as many games for him as he would have liked.
“When I look back on it, I sometimes feel like I let Declan down because of the injury situation.
“No player is ever bigger than any club but I really wish I had have been able to have done more for Declan on the pitch.
“Declan is a top class coach and now that he has had the taste for management I am sure he will go on to achieve something exceptional in football.”
This season marked Deery’s tenth at the Brandywell and the testimonial ensued.
“If someone offered me the chance to go back and stop playing for Derry so that I wouldn’t get a testimonial I would bite their hands off - it’s been flat out at the minute,” laughed Deery.
“No seriously, I am so thankful to all of the fans, players and everyone who has helped me organise my testimonial year. We have a big boxing event in the Guildhall coming up in a few weeks. A few of the players are fighting one another.
“Because of my knee, I won’t be able to get into the ring but you know me, I might throw caution to the wind, get into the ring, take a hiding and then do my other knee,” said Deery laughing.
“I might be out of contract at the minute but I am football on the brain and with a bit of luck my knee will heal, get stronger and I’ll be able to get another few years out this old body,” smiled Deery.