SAM Collins swapped Premier League-bound Hull City for Hartlepool United in 2008 – but the skipper insists he has no regrets.
The Yorkshireman endured an injury-blighted two years with The Tigers and he made just 13 league appearances before moving on to Victoria Park.
Within five months of his January transfer Phil Brown’s men were headed for the top flight following their play-off final win over Bristol City.
But Collins was soon handed the captain’s armband at his new club and the stalwart defender will again lead Pools into this coming season.
His old club are the visitors to the Vic tomorrow afternoon (kick off 3pm), and the 35-year-old today reflected on his decision to swap Humberside for Hartlepool.
“It started off really well for me at Hull, but then I got the injury,” said Collins, who joined Hull from Port Vale in 2006.
“I tore my cartilage then got back the following season and had a big problem with my knee.
“It could have finished me really – when you’re out for 15 months you worry really.
“But I got back fit and I wanted to move on.
“Things had changed, they had a new manager and had obviously brought in a new centre-half.
“I wanted to play and that is when I joined Hartlepool.
“And I’ve never looked back – I have loved every minute of it here.”
And, on the prospect of playing Premier League football, Collins laughed: “Maybe it was no coincidence that they went up when I left!
“But Phil Brown had come in when I was injured. That never helps as a player because the new manager will have his own ideas.
“They started to build towards the Premier League and they went up the season I left.
“I could have stayed but I was at an age where I wanted to play more than anything else.
“I came here and it’s been a brilliant four years or so.
“I love it here and I really think we could be in for a very good season.
“We’re quietly confident among ourselves that we could surprise a few people this year
“Pre-season is coming along nicely and we’re getting better with every game.
“This should be another good game and it’s one I’m looking forward to, especially with it being my old club.”