‘Gutted’ – The Birmingham City stalwart opens up on his exit from the Blues

When Connal Trueman first joined Birmingham City, he was an 11-year-old boy with dreams of becoming the club’s first-choice goalkeeper. He admits he leaves a decade and a half later “emptied” that his dream will never come true.

Speaking for the first time after his departure was announced, the 25-year-old revealed how difficult he found the prospect of leaving – but how he knows he now has the opportunity to launch “the career I know I’m capable of having.” ‘.

Where that will be he does not yet know, but he is confident that the talents and personal qualities that have kept him at St Andrew’s for so long will stand him in good stead in his next chapter. But for now, everything is pretty raw.

READ: Birmingham City favorite for pre-season with Championship rival

READ: Aitor Karanka suffers ‘unfair’ fate in first job since leaving Birmingham City

“It’s kind of emotional,” he told BirminghamLive. “I’m still a bit drained, although I think I’m coming to the end now. The last game of the season was emotional, 15 years and 15 years of training too, from 11 years old, these are real crucial years for who you are as a person. The club played a huge role in who I am today. Getting away from it, or leaving it, is not an easy thing.

Another thing that hasn’t been easy has been getting the playing time that every professional footballer needs. After coming through the academy, Garry Monk gave Trueman his full debut, on the first day of the 2018/2019 season in a 2-2 draw with Norwich City. The Blues did well that day – although they couldn’t find a response to a late infusion from Onel Hernandez and the Cuban, who was a team-mate this season, beat Trueman twice in the final seven minutes .

Onel Hernandez of Norwich City celebrates after scoring Norwich’s second goal

“I spoke about it several times to Onel. The less we talk about it, the better! I think I just remember him doing a front flip and taking his shirt off in front of the fans outside. That’s probably the early part that I don’t fondly remember.

Trueman was 23 and far too good for the development team when the door really opened for him the following season. Lee Camp had dropped a few noises and Pep Clotet made Trueman his first choice. The Blues stabilized, picked up three draws and a win at Reading before circumstances intervened. Within a week, Marc Roberts was injured and Jake Clarke-Salter dislocated his shoulder.

Wes Harding, Geraldo Bajrami and Gary Gardner tried to replace Harlee Dean, but predictably the results dwindled. The 17-goal concession in six games ultimately cost Trueman his spot as Camp was restored.

“It was a difficult period when I left the team, from a strictly personal point of view the team had a good run which was good for the club, but I felt like it was in my hands and then a few things happened – obviously you can always do better yourself – all of a sudden I’m back from the team and I haven’t had another look to be fair.

“It’s not always easy, you’re going to go through periods where you’re a bit depressed or failing to ‘sulk’ better. But it doesn’t do anyone any good, you or the team, when I had those periods of inactivity, you just have to look at yourself and for lack of a better phrase, think ‘**** this, it’s time to work harder, it’s time to improve and make your evidence again”.

“You do this every day on the training ground, in the gym, trying to improve and just showing people that your head hasn’t been down. I think I did that well, it’s who I am as a person, it’s not really in me to do anything else.

That wouldn’t be the only tough time Trueman would face. Along with Neil Etheridge and Andres Prieto newly arrived at the club, he was loaned out to League One Wimbledon for the 2020/2021 season. He would then go on to break into the Dons team, play 22 games and really have fun. Then, in January, it ended abruptly when he was called back – and never used: “I remember the phone call saying that I’m coming back, it was unexpected, I didn’t expect it, then coming back and not even being on the bench was like ‘This is tough’.

“It wasn’t the nicest time when I first came back because I always had my eye on what Wimbledon was doing and I thought ‘I could play in that game’. It’s been a short time. tricky for me.

The same story happened this season: replacing Matija Sarkic at the start, then number 2 behind Neil Etheridge at the end. From Darren Randolph, to Tomasz Kuszczak, to David Stockdale, to Lee Camp, to Etheridge – there has almost always been one, or sometimes two teammates ahead of him.

Connal Vraiman
Connal Vraiman

“I was very unlucky in that regard because there were a lot of people who kept me out of the team but very lucky to have learned from a lot of good goalkeepers and a lot of good people, they all helped me.”

He counts Camp and Stockdale as particularly good in that department. “Just because of the nature of the relationship with Campy, it was the one where I was most involved, we were No. 1 and No. 2, I liked to train with him every day, it’s a very good guy, a very funny guy, he loves the goalkeeper and could talk about it all day. I learned a lot from him.

“When I first got my opportunity – before Campy arrived – Stocky had just left the team, it would have been easy for him to be bitter but he was fantastic with me, always ready to chat , texting me or in person at the training ground. He was brilliant. But it’s a bit hard to single out two of them because they’ve all been fantastic goalkeepers, but also great people fantastic.

And so it ends. Birmingham-born Trueman now has to leave his comfort zone and make a name for himself. He has irons on the fire but none are hot enough, he wants to provide too much detail.

“The ideal is to go and play, prove myself and have a career, it’s just about finding the right person. Whether it’s in the championship to compete and support me to get the shirt in front of someone. another one, or fall out and be No. 1. I don’t know. Those are the conversations we’re having right now. It’s a big decision where I’m going next and I want to make sure I do the right things. things.

“I will always have nothing but love for the club, for the opportunities they gave me, the experiences they gave me, the faith they showed me from a young boy from the academy. It didn’t end the way I wanted, I ultimately didn’t achieve the goal of being Birmingham City’s No.1.

“I’m disappointed with how it ended, but I love the club and hope they turn the tide and fight at the other end of the league.” Maybe one day Trueman will come back and get the St Andrew reception that has always been his dream.

Should Birmingham City sign a goalkeeper this summer? If so, who? Let us know here

Comments are closed.