Hartlepool United’s Niko Muir talks goals, graft and no more 4am alarms

Hartlepool forward Niko Muir battles for the ball during the Vanarama National League match between Maidstone United  and Hartlepool United at the Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone on Saturday 4th August 2018. (Credit: Jon Bromley | Shutter Press)
Hartlepool forward Niko Muir battles for the ball during the Vanarama National League match between Maidstone United and Hartlepool United at the Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone on Saturday 4th August 2018. (Credit: Jon Bromley | Shutter Press)

Hartlepool United striker Niko Muir was brought up in the school of hard knocks.

Alarm calls at 4am, only catching three hours sleep, working full-time and playing part-time.

It’s fair to say Tuesday’s goalscoring hero is thankful for the opportunity to concentrate solely on his football.

Muir admits that having been handed the chance by “big club” Hartlepool, which was an offer too good to turn down, he’s determined to grasp it with both hands.

He’s definitely in no rush to head back south for his shifts in a shop and getting kicked around a ploughed field come 3pm every Saturday.

“I used to have to always think about work the next morning,” said Muir speaking after Pools’ 2-2 home draw with Harrogate Town this week.

“It used to be catch an hour or two sleep when you can, train, travel, go to work. It was a lot.

“My body was used to the timings but it was not easy getting three hours sleep after work before a match.

“It is much easier now training full time.

“I knew if I got the chance to sign somewhere full time I would take it.

“I had other chances. I thought it would all work for me, then I had to go back to Hendon.

“It was awful at the time but good in a way as well. It made me realise that I wanted it so much more having had a taste of training full time. Going back to work was hard after that.”

When asked what the key differences between the Isthmian League, where he scored 40 goals last season, and the National League, Muir is not sure there really is that much. That would explain why he’s taken to this division like a duck to water.

“It is the same in terms of the physical side but the tempo is a bit more,” said Muir.

“When you talk the physicality, lower league football is all the same. Everywhere you go you are going to get kicked.

“Here, you get more time on the ball but you still get the pressure.”

Muir was close to getting his big break last season when Championship QPR gave him a trial.

Even though no offer materialised, he says he learned a lot from the experience.

“Everywhere I have been I have been learning, watching how people play,” said the striker.

“I try to pick up little bits everywhere I have been. I think ‘what can I do better?’ - I learn every day and every day I feel like I am learning new things about myself.”

Muir admits he was shocked a club the size and stature of Pools were willing to roll the dice with him.

He said: “I was shocked.

“This is a big club. When a big club wants you there is no turning back mentally.

“It was a big decision to leave home - my Mum was wary at first. But the fans have taken to me so I feel at home here. The lads in the dressing room have bonded well, too.

“My Dad has been up to visit and my Mum will soon so all is good.”