9:30am Saturday 21st June 2014
By David Pritchard
Former Oxford United midfielder Peter Leven is determined to make a return to football next season, almost 18 months on from his last appearance.
An injury-hit finish to the Scot’s spell with the U’s, who released him at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, appeared to signal a premature end to his career.
But after taking time to fully recover from the knocks and assess his options, retirement is not on Leven’s agenda.
Time spent in the USA in February training with second tier side San Antonio Scorpions rekindled the 30-year-old’s de-sire to make a playing return.
He said: “I did double sessions every day for a week.
“I never used to do that back home and it gave me a sense of believing in myself again.”
Crucially, there has been no recurrence of the knee problems which hampered him in his time at United.
Leven, whose memorable strike from the centre circle against Port Vale in October 2011 was the highlight of his 67 games in two years with the club, admits his willingness to play through the pain did not help.
He said: “It was like ‘if you need me to play, I’ll play’, whereas some players would take three or four weeks out to get fully recovered – maybe that was my downfall.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still have to look after myself.
“I was told to retire at 17 and I’m 30 now. I have still got the same knee I had when I was 17, but I know how to manage myself.
“I’ve averaged 35 games a season over my career.”
Coaching appeals to the former Glasgow Rangers trainee, who already has his UEFA B Licence and will start the A Licence course shortly.
Ideally, he wants to find a player-coach role this summer and is prepared to drop into non-league.
A couple of Skrill Premier clubs have shown an interest, while there are also potential opportunities in the USA and Scotland.
Leven is doing everything he can – even joining Twitter (@peter_leven) – to avoid slipping out of the game for good.
“It’s been absolutely horrible, that’s why I want to be involved again, in any capacity,” he said.
“When you’re doing well everyone wants to talk, but when you’re thinking what’s out there people forget you and don't pick up the phone.
“Football is a tough world and you just need to get on with it and I want to keep going as long as I can.
“I just want to stay in the game, I don’t want to disappear out of the back door.
“I’ve got a lot to offer, on and off the pitch.”
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