When Liam Fontaine was told his season was over, the Ross County defender had other ideas.
Fontaine suffered a ruptured achilles tendon during County’s 1-0 defeat to Dundee United in November, which was expected to spell the end of the Englishman’s campaign.
Having undergone ankle surgery during his spell with previous club Hibernian, the process of a lengthy rehabilitation was familiar to the 33-year-old, bringing about a steely determination which saw Fontaine make his return as a substitute in Friday’s Championship title-clinching 4-0 victory over Queen of the South.
Fontaine took a huge degree of satisfaction from returning in such a significant match, and he said: “When I did it, everyone said my season was done.
“Credit to the club and Roy MacGregor for sending me to where I wanted to go for my reconstruction. I went to London to see James Calder, who I have had surgery with in the past. We’ve got a good relationship and I think when you’ve had a good experience with somebody, you trust them.
“I knew how big the injury was, and the first bit of any big injury is to get the initial repair done properly. It was a hard rehab mentally, because for long parts I couldn’t do much. I just had to do all I could to aid the initial rebuild of the tendon.
“The rehab went smoothly, but then I had to get back out and play for the reserves on Monday. It was never in the conversation to play on Friday, but it was a fitting finish to the cycle for me – especially on the day we sealed the title.
“I always had a personal goal in my head of getting back out there before the end of the season. I never went public with it because you can’t with that sort of injury.
“When I was told my season was over that did not sit right with me, I’m not one of these guys to take the easy road and just concentrate on next year. I wanted to get back.”
Fontaine has now won the Championship twice, with the former Bristol City player proud of his medal haul. Fontaine, who has taken steps into coaching to take charge of County’s under-18s along with Don Cowie, said: “For any person playing football, to experience winning something is the key thing.
“People play for whatever reason, whether it’s money or whatever, but winning things is what you are remembered for. I have had quite a decent haul since I have been in Scotland, with winning the Championship and the Scottish Cup, and now the IRN-BRU Cup and Championship again.”
l Ross County keeper Ross Munro has signed a one-year contract extension which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2021.