Published: 06:00, 10 July 2019
Johan ter Horst insists there are no regrets when he looks back at his decision to join Hull City five years ago.
Ter Horst burst onto the scene as a teenager and had scouts flocking to watch him at Folkestone during the 2013/14 season.
He signed a three-year deal with the Tigers, who were then in the Premier League, but never broke into the first team.
Ter Horst spent a few months at Maidstone after being released by Hull but was soon back with Invicta, where he’s now preparing for his third full season.
“I still think I’m young but I’m 24 now!” he said. “I moved to Hull when I was 18 and it does seem a long time ago – but at the same time, it feels like yesterday.
“I met Steve Bruce and played in the same team as Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson, people who have gone on to do big things, so you can’t fault that experience.
“It’s just very tough trying to be a young footballer coming through. Quite a few who were in the same team as me have also dropped into non-league and got a job.
“There’s nothing wrong with that but sometimes you need a cocktail of luck, getting that chance and being in the right place at the right time. All these things need to align and unfortunately it didn’t quite happen for me. I have no regrets.
“I couldn’t turn down a move to the Premier League but maybe if I’d moved to a League 2 club at that time and gone straight into the first team and just carried on – as opposed to going into an under-23 set-up – I don’t know if it would have been different but it’s all what-ifs.”
Ter Horst now works for the family business to supplement his part-time football income and is content with that balance – for now.
He said: “You always want to play at the highest standard possible and if you have a great season, who’s to say it wouldn’t happen?
“But it’s one of those things that if it happens, it happens.
“I’m not delusional and I don’t put any pressure on myself. I’ll just enjoy things as they are at the minute.”
Staying injury-free is ter Horst’s main aim this season after a campaign disrupted by a knee problem and other niggles.
“It’s hard to get going,” he said. “You come back into the team, start doing well and then you pick up another knock and you’re out of the team again.
“It’s hard to enjoy it when you’re stuck on the sidelines watching. You start to get a name for yourself for being injury-prone and it’s annoying because it’s true!
“Unfortunately some players are like that and I seem to be one of them. Hopefully we can have a clear season and squash that stigma.
“We’ve got to be looking at the play-offs.
“If we manage to hit the ground running this season and carry it through, I don’t see why we couldn’t be up there challenging for the championship.”