I appreciate small things a lot more – Hull City's David Meyler
Hull midfelder relishing Cup final chance after battling back from career-threatening injuries
David Meyler has more reasons than most to be grateful for the chance to walk out at Wembley.
The 24-year-old Ireland midfielder is likely to start for Hull City against Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday and, as he prepares for the game, he is acutely aware of how lucky he will be, having once feared he would not walk properly again, let alone play football.
Two serious injuries to his right knee threatened to wreck his career.
Cork-born Meyler was pushing to establish himself in the Sunderland team under Steve Bruce, now his manager at Hull, when he suffered the first injury. It came against Manchester United in May 2010, when Meyler was carried off after damaging his cruciate ligament.
The best guess for recovery was 12 months, if at all, but Meyler fought his way back after seven months, only for injury to strike again five matches into his comeback. It was in the same knee, but this time the damage was to his medial ligament.
"I was told I might never walk properly again," recalled Meyler. "That gives you a bit of context, to play in an FA Cup final.
"I don't know if I will be playing yet, obviously, but to have the opportunity is fantastic.
"I had made a right mess of my leg, I thought I would not be right for a long time. The first time it felt really bad, the second time felt like someone had broken my fingernail, but it was the same length of time I needed after the first injury."
Meyler is indebted, in Cup final week more than ever, to Steve Bollen, the surgeon who operated on his knee on both occasions and "did a fantastic job."
"I would not say it drives me on, but I appreciate the small things a lot more. When you spend 18 months out injured it is never nice. When you are training every day you relish it and enjoy it."
Having made a staggered return to the Sunderland first team, Meyler signed for Hull in January 2013 after a brief loan spell. He has made six appearances in the FA Cup for Hull this season, playing in every round.
Meyler admitted that he feared missing out on his FA Cup final dream after his Old Trafford clash with Adnan Januzaj last Sunday, but insisted there was no malice in his actions.
The Corkman claims that his last minute altercation with the Belgian, which initially looked like a stamp, was a complete accident borne from fatigue.
Fortunately for the 24-year-old, the referee Craig Pawson saw the incident at the time and didn't deem it worthy of sanction, which prevented the FA from opening an investigation that could have resulted in a three-match suspension.
"The referee has seen it and realised there was no malice in it," insisted Meyler.
"It could have been taken the wrong way, but it was an accident in the sense that it was clumsy from me.
"I was tired, it was the 90th minute and Januzaj was just too quick for me. My leg is in the air, he's kicked the ball away and as I'm coming to plant my foot to push off and I've ended up accidentally standing on top of him."
"Of course there was a worry and some anxiety. Sometimes things can be taken the wrong way or over the line, but it is all done and dusted now and I can look forward to the cup final."