Tom Bender admitted his moment in the Accrington Stanley spotlight wasn’t one he can remember!
The then 18-year-old defender was stretchered off with a head injury after goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin accidentally punched him clearing a ball.
It was October 2011 and a Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against Tranmere Rovers.
Les Parry’s side were leading 2-1 when Bender collided with Dunbavin and Tranmere’s Lukas Akins, with the teenager treated on the pitch for 30 minutes before he was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital and the game was abandoned.
Bender, on loan from Colchester, admitted the attention went mad after that although he didn’t have his phone in hospital so he didn’t know a lot about it.
Most media channels wanted to speak to him, he got get well messages from prominent footballers, such as Robbie Savage, and his Twitter following rose dramatically overnight.
“I loved my time at Accrington, not really for playing but for everything which happened off the pitch, I really grew up as a person there and I learnt a lot from John (Coleman) and Jimmy (Bell).
“I was so happy when they got promoted into League One.
“I remember I had gone there at 18, my first loan move. I was told to pack my bags as I was going to Accrington the next day for training. My first thought was ‘’Where is it?’
“I drove up and I loved it. After six weeks in hotels, I moved in with Kurtis Guthrie in Liverpool and we are still good friends to this day.
“I keep in touch with players like Toto Nsiala and Kevin Long from my time there, it was one of the best times in my life.”
This was despite the incident…
“I obviously don’t remember a lot about it. I kind of started a trend I didn’t want to start as, with medical advances, players are now treated a lot longer on the pitch.
“I remember the drama after, it was a bit crazy. My family came straight up from hospital and there were rumours I had a bleed on the brain or had broken my neck but thankfully none of that happened, it was severe concussion.
“I had the Accrington and Colchester media teams on to me telling me everyone want to speak to me, from national newspapers to Sky, and it was intense for a while.
“I remember opening my Twitter and, at the time, when anyone followed me, I got an email as well and it took me weeks to delete all those!
“While I got the attention, it did kill me a bit as well. I was on a season-long loan and I remember Sean Hessey getting sent off at Plymouth just after and the club was short of defenders and I was just sat at home twiddling my thumbs, feeling well but medically I couldn’t play.”
After returning to Colchester due to a hamstring injury in February 2012, Bender, who played for Wales up to Under 21 level, moved onto Millwall for a season, Dartford and then Forest Green Rovers and, at 27, he is still playing at St Albans in the Conference South.
“I still speak to John and Jimmy occasionally. I remember when I was playing at Southport when they were managers there and me and Jimmy had a big row at the end of the match as he said I had got Toto Nsiala sent off. It was quickly forgotten though!
“Being at Accrington was one of my favourite times – but unfortunately it’s the incident than my football I am remembered for!”