“I really wasn’t keen on going under the knife, because I’d looked into it, and read about cases, such as Owen Hargreaves, who’d had several operations and was forced to retire at just 30.
“But soon the doctor was spelling it out for me; either I have the operation or retire from the game.
“And I was contemplating retirement, because I knew that, if this doesn’t work, that’s my career done.”
Hall went ahead and had the operation, and would go on to make a full recovery, but the physical battle was just one side of the coin.
Inwardly, the impact the injury was having on Hall’s mental health cannot be understated.
“I can remember speaking with Mickey Bennett from the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) who described my problems building up like a bath that’s filling up with water, and eventually it will overflow unless you pull the pulg,” said Hall.
“For me that moment came when I was sitting in Les Ferdinand’s office with him and Steven McClaren, the manager at the time.
“I’d just got fit again but I still didn’t feel myself, so I started talking to them and I just broke down crying. That’s when we all knew I needed help.
“That was also what triggered me to come out and speak about my problems at the time, which was such a massive weight off my shoulders.”
Hall’s struggles at QPR, both physically and mentally, over 18 months, made his return to regular football with the London side all the more remarkable.
Indeed, in what would prove to be his final season with the club, Hall took on the captaincy.
“I remember at first the armband was given to Àngel Rangel, but he said no, and thought I was better off having it, as I’d been at the club for a few years by this point.
“So, I took it in pre-season not thinking I’d get it for the rest of the campaign, but that turned out to be the case, and it was an honour.”
Yet come the end of the season contract renewal discussions had broken down with QPR, and Hall was looking for a fresh start, with Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough the destination.
“It was such a tough decision to leave QPR, but for me, I wanted a fresh challenge in my career,” said Hall.
“When Warnock took over at Middlesbrough, I knew it was perfect for me, especially after speaking with him and hearing how much he wanted me.
“I loved every minute of training under him; what you see is what you get with Neil!
“For me his player management is the best I’ve ever come across.”
However, Warnock’s time in the North East would be short lived, with Chris Wilder replacing him.
“It was disappointing for me when Warnock got the sack,” said Hall, “because he was the one who pushed to get me in.
“It was clear that I wasn’t in Wilders' plans, but he never had that conversation with me, like Rowlett did back at Birmingham.
“I’d been training well, then I picked up a knock that kept me out for a couple of weeks, and during that time the boys were playing well, so unfortunately I never got my opportunity.”
27 appearances for Middlesbrough over those two seasons however would be enough to impress fellow Championship side Rotherham United, who in the summer of 2022 brought him in on loan.
“For me it was an easy decision to go to Rotherham,” said Hall, “I needed to play, and I remember getting the call from Paul Warne, and for me to feel wanted again, meant everything.
“It’s been a positive season so far, I’ve been out recently with a small injury, but I’m looking forward to getting back out there soon and playing as many games as possible for the club!”
Hall’s footballing journey can hardly be called straightforward, so what advice would he give the next generation of players in Sussex?
“Just believe in yourself,” said Hall, “if you believe in yourself, you’re halfway there.”
“Talent isn’t enough to make it in this game, you need to be prepared to put in the work and it’s going to be tough.
“1% of young players will make it in the professional game, but if you believe in your own talent and are willing to work hard, the skies the limit!”
To find out more about playing opportunities in Sussex please contact:
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