Derry City's Jordan McEneff admits he almost quit football due to injuries

JORDAN McEneff feared he would be forced to quit football after sustaining a spate of injuries just as his six-year association with Arsenal was coming to a frustrating end.

Two separate fractures in his back while playing for the Gunners' U21s left him distraught and contemplating walking away from his promising career as he failed to receive any concrete assurances from two different specialists.

"There were times, I'm not going to lie, when I did struggle and thought this is probably the end," admitted the Cornshell Fields man.

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"But I'm lucky I've got a good family around me that's been through it with my older brother so I could always speak to them and I had a lot of people helping me out and speaking to me.

Midfielder Jordan McEneff pictured at Brandywell on Tuesday afternoon after signing a two year deal with Derry City. Photograph courtesy of Kevin Morrison.

"Even at Arsenal, Per Mertesaker went through a long term injury so he helped me a lot when I was over there. So I've had people to speak to about it which definitely helped.

"I fractured my back and came back and then fractured my other side. I went to see a few specialists and none of them could give me an answer on what to do.

"So at that stage I thought I didn't know if I would be able to play again. Luckily it healed itself and I got back playing.

"Other than injuries I wouldn't change anything from my time at Arsenal. I met some unbelievable people, played with some unbelievable players and probably learned things without even knowing both on the pitch and off it. So it's only going to help in the future I think."

A short term loan move to the League of Ireland with Shelbourne was his chance to reignite his career with regular game-time in senior football but again injury struck for the luckless 21 year-old midfielder!

This time it was his knee but once again he showed the resilience of his character to bounce back and a potentially devastating year in which he cut ties with Arsenal, ended on a high.

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Family friend and his former underage coach at Coleraine, Ruaidhri Higgins offered Jordan a lifeline with Derry City on a short term move until the end of the season.

He made just six appearances for the Candy Stripes but his final kick of a ball in 2022 was one which will live long in the memory as he slotted a penalty kick into the Shelbourne net in front of 30,000 fans at the Aviva Stadium as Derry lifted the FAI Cup.

And little over a week later Jordan was offered a two-year deal by Higgins and his decision was never in doubt.

"I'm absolutely buzzing. When I spoke to the gaffer and he offered it there was only one answer so I'm buzzing.

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“To come here and for the gaffer to show me faith, I know I haven't played much, but working with me every day on the training pitch and telling me his plans for next year, it was just a no brainer to sign here again."

Higgins has been impressed by Jordan’s character and has no doubt about his technical ability.

"He had a number of setbacks, a number of injuries and I know at one point he was at a very low ebb and fair play to him he showed thick skin and guts and courage and has come in here and has hardly missed a session,” Higgins.

“He' s become more robust. When he came in we managed him to a certain extent. He's grown stronger and he's enjoyed the last month in particular but he's got so many attributes that you could only dream of in a midfield player.”

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Jordan was highly rated at Arsenal and the ultimate goal would be to return to football across the Channel but for now he's delighted he's at a club with real ambition and in an environment where he can flourish alongside some of the top players in the country.

"The coaches, not just the gaffer, 'Rennie' (Alan Reynolds), Mark (McChrystal), Conor (Loughery), the lot of them they're all unbelievable coaches. So working alongside them and the more experienced players in the team. ,the likes of 'Fats', Mark Connolly, Mickey Duffy and Shane McEleney who have all been about and own a lot of trophies, it can only make me better so I'm looking forward to it."

While the majority of the Derry squad will be relishing a well-earned break, Jordan admits he would rather the season started next week.

"First of all I need to have a good off season and make sure I come into preseason fit and stay fit all preseason and show the gaffer that I’m ready to play. “Whether I start or get a chance coming into the season it's just up to me to take it and stay in the team.”

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Former Arsenal youth Jordan McEneff delighted to sign two year deal with Derry C...