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Bradford Park Avenue comeback out of the blue for Iqbal
A surprise name on the Park Avenue team sheet last week was Amjad Iqbal and the player admitted his comeback had been a shock, even to him.
The Bradford-born Pakistan international had not played in a competitive game since breaking his leg for a second time early last season.
He spoke to Avenue manager John Deacey the day before last Saturday’s trip to Corby Town and he found himself rushing to sign forms for the Blue Square Bet North Division so he could travel with the squad.
Iqbal said: “It was an emergency comeback, that’s all. I still don’t know if I will be coming back into the game.
“I was just taking things steady really but, all of a sudden, things happened.
“The news that Avenue had won promotion was fantastic but back then I was just running, with no thoughts of playing again.
“I wasn’t even playing five-a-side with friends because what happened to me – second time – could have happened at any time.
“My phone kept ringing in the close season – there were a lot of clubs asking. But I just told them I wasn’t thinking about playing at all and left it at that.”
Iqbal suffered an horrendous injury while playing for Farsley against Arm-thorpe Welfare and was out for 12 months.
He battled to regain fitness and was tempted back into the game by Deacey but, while playing at Ashton United, Iqbal’s leg was broken in almost the exact same spot.
When Farsley hosted Avenue in a pre-season friendly, Iqbal thought that would be a fine opportunity for him to see both of his former clubs playing and to catch up with some old friends. However, it reawakened him.
“I went along and I really enjoyed the game but I’m not a great watcher. I wanted to be out there.
“It was a good day for me because the supporters from both clubs were really good to me. I talked with John because he had been my manager for about 12 seasons.
“The week after that he asked me to play for Avenue in a pre-season friendly and I said I wasn’t ready but he told me it was for charity and he would only play me for ten minutes.
“I’ll do anything for a good cause, so I said yes.
“Turned out I was starting and I looked across at the bench after about 20 minutes but nothing was happening.
“At half-time John said he thought I was enjoying it so he had left me on and told me to go out in the second half and he’d substitute me if I was struggling. I ended up playing 90 minutes!
“There were still a lot of calls coming, so I phoned John to ask his advice because I have always turned to him for footballing matters. He said not to sign for anyone because I was already part of a team at Avenue.
“The next thing I knew I was being picked up, whisked away and signing on before the Corby Town game and then I played last Monday against Stalybridge Celtic.”