'I didn't know if I'd make it' - City academy product ends over 1,000 days of injury woe

Sam Habregham Grimsby

Norwich City academy product Sam Habergham has returned from a lengthy injury absence and earned a contract at Grimsby Town - Credit: Michael White/Grimsby Town FC

Norwich City academy product Sam Habergham feared his football career may have been over – but after almost three years his injury nightmare is finally over. 

The 28-year-old was on City’s book from the age of seven having been born in Yorkshire but brought up in Great Ellingham, near Attleborough.

The full-back signed professional terms in 2009 but only made it onto the bench for one first-team game before being released in 2011, then became a regular in the top tier of non-league with Tamworth and Braintree. 

NCFC head shots/ Sam HaberghamPhoto: Jerry DawsCopy: ©Archant Photographic 201001603 772434

Sam Habergham, pictured in 2010 during his time with Norwich City - Credit: Jerry Daws/Archant library

Habergham moved to Lincoln in 2016 and was an integral part of the Imps’ revival under the Cowley brothers, reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals as a non-league side and earning promotion back to the Football League in 2017. 

He remained a regular in League Two and played all of the EFL Trophy triumph over Shrewsbury at Wembley in April 2018. However, later that month disaster struck and serious knee surgery was required. 

That led to being released in 2019 after Lincoln had secured promotion to League One and it wasn’t until earlier this month that the former England Under-17 international joined Grimsby Town on trial and earned a six-month contract with the League Two club. 

His moment of redemption arrived as a half-time substitute during a 3-0 defeat at Port Vale recently and then last Saturday he played all of a 0-0 home draw with Southend. 

“That was my first start and first 90 minutes in more than 1,000 days - nearly three years - it’s nice to finally be able to do that,” Habergham told the Grimsby Telegraph. 

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“I don’t have to think about my knee anymore, it’s really good. I have to manage my body and myself a little bit after being out for so long.” 

Arsenal's Theo Walcott (left) and Lincoln City's Sam Habergham during the Emirates FA Cup quarter fi

Arsenal's Theo Walcott, left, and Lincoln City's Sam Habergham in FA Cup quarter-final action in 2017 - Credit: PA

The Norfolk-raised defender joins the second-from-bottom Mariners’ battle for survival, with former Ipswich and Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst recently appointed ahead of an imminent takeover of the club by new owners. 

“The road has been a long one with loads of ups and downs,” the former Canaries prospect continued. “There’s been times where I didn’t know if I’d make it, but I’m here now and that’s the main thing. 

“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point. Now I want to kick on and get as many minutes and as many games in as I can and I want to do that at Grimsby. 

“There’s been a lot of people helping me out and they know who they are. Lincoln were a massive part of that allowing me to use their facilities at their training ground. That’s helped me to get back to where I am today.” 

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