ANDY Rafferty is determined to repay the faith shown in him by Hartlepool United – and the goalkeeper believes he begun that payback process in Holland.
The 25-year-old was the star of the show for Pools during their goalless draw with Telstar on Saturday.
Without his second-half heroics – including four top-class saves – Pools would have returned from the Netherlands with back-to-back defeats for the second year running.
For Rafferty – sidelined for the entirety of last season with a knee injury – the man-of-the-match performance marked what he hopes is a new beginning for him at Victoria Park.
The former Darlington youngster was awarded a one-year extension to his Pools contract during the summer, despite his prolonged period of absence.
And he admits the deal was something of a relief.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised (at the new deal), because I felt I’d worked hard and kept my attitude right during my time out and kept my head down,” he told SportMail.
“It was probably more a bit of relief.
“I was pleased with the faith shown in me and now I want to repay that.
“Saturday was great for me and I hope I can use it as a bit of a launchpad and a new start for me.
“It’s great to be amongst the lads and be back out there.”
He went on: “The year out was hard but I had good people around me and that helped, the likes of Buster (physio Ian Gallagher) keeping me going.
“I went down to London six times to see specialists but there was nothing they could do, the type of injury it was it just needed rest.
“That allowed me to put a bit of bulk on in my upper body, which I think I needed.
“You have to try to turn it into a positive and I hope I managed to do that.”
Rafferty was equally as thrilled that his weekend showing came on the back of disappointment following Thursday’s 3-1 defeat to Almere City.
The netminder felt he should have done better with the late goal which edged the hosts in front, as he added: “I was a bit rusty on Thursday and didn’t really feel quite with it.
“I was frustrated with the goal I conceded late on.
“But on Saturday everything clicked in.
“The saves were all just about reactions.
“That’s something I’ve been working on and it’s the part of my game I’m best at.
“It’s about confidence and the more I go on the more of that I’ll get, but this was a good start.”