Having a strong mentality is key for Curtis Allen
We often hear certain footballers’ mentality being questioned.
But that’s not something you could ever throw at Curtis Allen.
The 32-year-old has sampled it all during his career both in Northern Ireland and across the water.
There have been plenty of highs and lows during that time but Allen has always worked hard to achieve his goals.
Like many of us though, this past year has been a tough one for the forward.
A return to Coleraine on deadline day last year was set to kick start another chapter in Allen’s career.
But unfortunately it never got off the starting blocks.
Still battling back from a groin injury which had kept him out of so much of his final season with Glentoran, Allen knew he would largely be an impact sub for the remainder of the season with the Bannsiders.
He came off the bench to help Oran Kearney’s side secure the BetMcLean League Cup in February, but then disaster struck as the Covid pandemic meant football, along with everything else, was put on hold.
The break was good for Allen in some ways as he was able to build his fitness up, but again he was left kicking his heels in frustration as football started up again.
His loan deal at Coleraine could only continue if parent club Glentoran extended his contract at the Oval to cover the delayed Irish Cup campaign.
That didn’t happen so he had to wait on the sidelines for the new season and his permanent switch to the Bannsiders to start in earnest.
As Coleraine created their own history in Europe with a famous win in Maribor, Allen was once again forced to watch on from afar due to work commitments.
He could have been forgiven to feel sorry for himself but instead he got his head down again.
His chance took a while in coming and when it did he ended up being subbed off in the first half at Glenavon as Coleraine went down to 10 men.
He freely admitted he was getting frustrated as others got their chance.
But finally Allen got his. Handed a starting spot last Saturday against Crusaders, Allen took his opportunity with both hands - equalising in the first half as the Bannsiders went on to record a sixth win on the bounce.
The relief was there for all to see, but Allen is hoping this is finally the new start he was looking for.
“It has been a long wait and its relief more than anything,” he said.
“It’s been one of the hardest seasons of my whole career because when I signed for Coleraine I was under no illusions that I wouldn’t play too much due to the injury that I had.
“Having a strong mentality is something that I’ve worked on my whole career.
“I haven’t been around the Irish League and scored as many goals if I didn’t have a strong mentality.
“Yes, I have been unlucky at times but I don’t want to sit up there and say ‘I’ve been unlucky’ because at the end of the day, Oran is the guy who picks the team and I want to be picked.
“I spoke to him a few weeks ago and I was contemplating things and I didn’t really know if I was coming or going.
“I told him that I needed a chance to get me on the pitch as I wasn’t content at picking up my wages and doing nothing as I want a big say on this team and I feel I can contribute with a lot of goals.
“I’m here to play football and if it wasn’t annoying me that I wasn’t playing or getting on, then I’d know it’s time to hang up my boots.
“It is annoying me as I’m going up that road cursing everybody and dear help my wife when I go in on a Saturday night and I don’t want to talk to her.
“I’ve got to keep working hard, age and all that doesn’t matter to me as I want to keep going as I’ve plenty of goals left in me.
“I’ve just had a baby boy a few weeks ago which has got my mind off things and it’s been the best thing for me.
“I’ve been working hard off the pitch when I haven’t played and just waiting for that chance and I needed to grab it with both hands.”
Allen is determined to make sure that talk of his demise has been greatly exaggerated and points to the example of other Irish League strikers for inspiration.
“It does fuel me and I probably had a point to prove with Oran,” said the striker.
“I’m 32 and there are boys older than me still doing it in the Irish League.
“Andrew Waterworth and big Eoin Bradley are a fine example and I’ve still a few years left in me.
“Let’s be honest, it’s the Irish League and the problem is you get social media and things like that now, which I don’t read too much now, but at times it pops up and it annoys you.
“But as I said, people have been writing me off my whole career but I’ll keep my head down, work hard, get in the box and put the ball in the back of the net.”
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