Former Leeds United full-back Aidy White has made a sensational return to football after almost three years out of the game.
The academy graduate took part in a pre-season friendly with Hearts and has signed a contract with the Scottish club, a remarkable comeback for a player that surely will have feared his playing career was over.
White first broke into the Leeds senior team over a decade ago before going on to play a part in the club’s promotion from League One in the 2009-10 season.
He made over 100 appearances for the Whites but was allowed to leave at the end of his contract in 2015.
Since then he spent half a season at Rotherham United before moving to Barnsley for the rest of the 2015-16 season, going on to win the Johnstones Paint Trophy and League One play-off final with the South Yorkshire club.
He hasn’t played a competitive game of football since January 2017. He was released by Barnsley a few months later and hasn’t been able to find a professional club since as he battled a debilitating groin problem.
But White, now 27, didn’t give up. He battled hard to put the injury behind him and was finally back on the pitch as Hearts took Glenavon on Saturday.
He completed the first 45 minutes of the friendly, which Hearts lost 2-1. A match report in the local outlet Edinburgh Evening News noted that “White showed good intent to get forward from left-back in his first outing after 30 months out injured”.
Having signed a two-year contract with the Jam Tarts back in March, the left-back clearly has the confidence of his manager Craig Levein, who rates him highly.
Levein was asked whether White would have been out of Hearts’ league had he not suffered with injuries. “Yes, and that was the risk and reward side of it,” he responded.
“We were taking on somebody who hadn’t played for that length of time against what he could offer if we got him fully fit.
“Nobody would dispute that he was a really good player before his injury troubles started. He has had to be patient, so have we, because he’s been out for a long time.
“I can see signs that he’s going to be useful for us. His speed and technical ability are good.”
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