When Scott Rogers signed his first professional contract for Mansfield Town Football Club in 2012, the young midfielder was hoping the footballing world lay at his feet.
That dream was wrecked by a serious career-ending injury six months ago, but Rogers is turning that blow into a positive as he uses it to get a head start in the managerial career he has always wanted.
Aged just 22, Rogers has now been appointed reserve team manager at NCEL Premier Division Heanor Town and is looking to quickly put his injury nightmare behind him and thrive in a new role in the game.
“As I grew up I always wanted to get into management when I got older and take it as far as I could,” he said.
“I’ve now got a bit of a head start as, if I had continued playing, I would have started a bit later.
“I have got to look at it as a positive, getting a head start on everyone else.
I have got to look at it as a positive, getting a head start on everyone else
“I never expected to get in this early through my injury. After I was told I shouldn’t play again, it was just a way to stay in football.”
Playing for Heanor, Rogers suffered a double fracture during an FA Vase second round match against Coleshill Town last November when he was the victim of a late challenge which fractured his tibia and fibula on impact in the 4-3 win.
As devastated as the player, the club then donated the £1,200 FA Vase prize money to Rogers. Players involved in the match also donated half of their expenses, while former Lion, Nathan Benger also added to the amount.
Rogers can vividly remember that awful moment his career was ended.
“I was further up the pitch than normal – I don’t usually go over the halfway line,” he said.
“Their centre half was bringing the ball out and our striker was pulling him back and he lost control of it. I nipped in and took it off him and that’s when he caught my standing leg head on into my shin.
“I think he was annoyed he was being pulled back more than anything. But I don’t think it was a nasty tackle. It just caught me wrong.
“It was the first time I had suffered an injury at all or missed a game through injury.
“Heanor have been brilliant and they gave me that FA Vase money.
“I was told I would be out for 16 months, so I still expected to miss half of next season as well, getting fit when I could. I thought I would have to play at Heanor in the reserves or drop even further to get back into it.
“I kept in contact with Mansfield Town, and Adam Murray and Richard Cooper offered me the chance to go down there and do my rehab which was nice.
He added: “It’s just over six months since my injury. I always wondered if I would play again. I was told no more football when I did it, but when you are not playing you miss it and I wanted to get back if I could.
“But six weeks ago the hospital told me I have arthritis in my ankle and, when I get older, if I play again I probably won’t be able to walk. It was horrible to hear it, having been at Mansfield Town and hoping to make a career out of it.”
Rogers signed for the Stags’ youth team at the age of 18 and signed a six-month professional contract just as he turned 20. But boss Paul Cox sent him out to Eastwood on loan and ended up signing there permanently after being released by Mansfield halfway through that Conference-winning season.
He then moved on to Heanor, had a spell at Rainworth, then went back to Heanor.
Rogers is hoping that working under the likes of Cox, Murray and Cooper will give him a good grounding in his new role.
“I picked up a lot down at Mansfield Town from the training sessions that I hope I can now take and pass on in my new job,” he said.
“Glenn (Heanor first team boss Clarence) texted me halfway through February and asked if I would help out with the reserves until the end of the season. I also took on the U21s until the end of the season.
“Applications were then taken for the reserve team job at the end of the season, I sent my CV through email and was told I had got it a couple of weeks ago.
“I have a Level 1 badge, which was part of our youth team scholarship at Mansfield. I have just gone on the FA Youth Module 1 and will book on Level 2 as soon as I am fit again.
“I will stay at this level for a while to get more experience, having had a taste of it at the end of last season. I will get my badges and see where it goes.”
Rogers will work alongside assistant manager Chris Seal following the resignation of Dave Barber, having assisted Barber during his rehabilitation and recovery.
“I’m delighted to be given this opportunity to develop a talented crop of youngsters that will hopefully shape the first team in years to come,” he said.
“This club has been fantastic with me and I want to pay it back by helping to bring through the next generation of players. I’m delighted that Heanor have given a young manager a chance.”
First team boss Glen Clarence added: “Scott is one of the nicest lads I’ve met in football, he has a fantastic playing CV having been a pro at Mansfield, after suffering a near enough career-ending leg break wearing the Lions shirt last season.
“I think his attitude and mental strength to want to start a new life in football is exemplary.
“As soon as his cast was off he was positive and wanting to help the club and myself, I think he deserves this chance, I think he will do a great job and I think he has a fantastic future in management.”