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Exclusive: Former Sunderland captain George Honeyman spills the beans on why he left the club

In an exclusive interview with the Roker Rapport Podcast, former Sunderland captain George Honeyman gave an in-depth insight into the reasons why he left the club to join Hull City last summer.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Former Sunderland captain George Honeyman was the latest guest on the Roker Rapport podcast, his second appearance on the show, as he chatted to host Craig Chapman.

The Hull City midfielder talked about how he is coping during the COVID-19 lockdown, what he’s been doing to keep himself fit, and when he expects to return to work.

Honeyman also discussed the end of last season, Sunderland’s two Wembley appearances and what it was like leading Sunderland out at Wembley, the two controversial games at Wycombe Wanderers, and the play-off second leg against Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

During the podcast, we also asked Honeyman for more details on his shock move to Hull during pre-season; how the move came about, and whether missing the pre-season trip to Portugal was related to his move to the KCOM Stadium.

Honeyman revealed that he actually missed the trip to Portugal due to an injury that required injections in his knee, but filled us in on his Hull transfer and gave his honest view on his thoughts at the time and how quickly the move transpired:

So the thing with missing the Portugal stuff was the last three, four months of last season, I was playing with this tendon injury in my knee and I came back, we were hoping that it had subsided over the lay-off in the summer. That wasn’t the case and I played the one game and I trained but a couple of days after and my knee had basically become really fat and painful.

It was a case of that I needed to go for a course of injections down in London to get that fixed.

So missing the Portugal stuff was never anything to do with me eventually leaving the club.

To be honest, it had never even crossed my mind in the off season or whatever that I would leave Sunderland, it was almost coming to a stage where I was thinking ‘I would almost love to be a one club player’, like if Sunderland could give me the chance.

I would never properly entertain that until I was 28 or 29 but there were some thoughts like that, I am already captain, you know what I mean?

I’m in a good place here but obviously I only had one year left on my contract and with the whole takeover and stuff like that I’m kind of thinking ‘no-one’s said anything about my contract but I’m taking it because there might be a takeover and stuff, then see what comes with that and hopefully it gets broached but we’ll sit tight, I’m not in any rush or what have you. Obviously I’d like it sorted sooner rather than later.’

This is just all my thoughts, I’m not actually dialoguing with the club. It’s kind of like a stubborn pride, where you kind of want to be approached by them with a new contract, you don’t want to be like ‘give me a new contract’.

So, anyway, I miss Portugal and I’m going for my course of injections and I’m walking my dog on a Tuesday night, it’s a nice evening or whatever. I think the lads are back from Portugal but I’m still not training, I’m not doing much, just resting my knee, getting these injections in it.

I got a phone call from my agent, just saying Hull are interested in you, I was like ‘ah right, ok’. You hear bits and pieces and you’re like ‘right ok, whatever, it doesn’t mean anything’, you know, as a courtesy, I’ll speak to you in a couple of days and I had never really even thought about it.

I was thinking ‘ah right, ok’, it’s nice to be wanted but in my head I’m thinking ‘right, hopefully if someone shows a bit of interest, that might trigger a new contract from Sunderland’.

So that was Tuesday night. Wednesday lunchtime, I get a phone call and it’s Hull, Hull have put a bid in for you and I’m thinking ‘Jesus Christ, that’s went quick’, “Let us know what Sunderland say and let us know what happens because obviously I have one year left” and they’re like “well surely this will trigger a new contract or what have you.

Basically two hours later, Sunderland have accepted the bid and my medical is the next day. I’m kind of thinking ‘blooming heck’, I haven’t even said anything and I’m like to my agent “does that mean Sunderland are not going to offer me a new contract or whatever?” and they’re like “no, they’ve accepted the bid”.

That was basically it, in the space of 12 hours, I was then down in London having my medical with Hull and in the space of two days I had gone from not knowing anything and just thinking about my season ahead with Sunderland to then being a Hull player.

It was all a bit surreal, like unbelievably quick.

At some point I had thought that Sunderland were going to offer me a new contract and it just never came, it was one of those, well they’ve accepted the bid and Hull have offered me a four year contract, I’ve got one year left at Sunderland and they’re not offering me anything, I can’t really throw my toys out of the pram because it looks like they want to sell us.

It was one of those where I was speaking to my dad and I’m like “what do I do?” and he’s like “clearly Sunderland want to sell you and you don’t want to throw your toys out of the pram and give up the opportunity to go to a Championship club on a four year deal and then go back to the club and they’re just trying to sell you”.

Bollocks to that, I’m going to Hull then.

I think the most disappointing thing was obviously I’d had a terrific season last year but at that point Aiden had already signed a new contract and he was 33 or something at the time and I’m 24, I’m captain of the club, I’ve come through the academy.

Looking back I was kind of thinking “well surely I could have been looked after by the club there” but it wasn’t to be, so they got some money from me, whether the club needed that money I don’t know.

But to be honest it got to a point where I was having my medical at Hull and I just had to change my mind and think “I’m signing for a good club here in the Championship” and it’s not easy but I had to change my mentality, this is an unbelievable opportunity here, if I go have a good couple of years here you never know what happens.

I wasn’t happy with how it ended, I can’t lie, but that’s how it was. That’s the business side of footy, that’s the ruthlessness of it.

I went from a Tuesday night walk with the dogs, with not a care in the world apart from getting my knee sorted, to a Hull player in less than 48 hours.

It was all a bit bizarre to be honest.

You can listen to the full interview with George Honeyman for FREE by subscribing to Roker Rapport via iTunes, Acast, Spotify or YouTube by clicking the relevant links.

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