Here's the interview from today's Times, by Graham Spiers. It's behind a paywall, so there's no point in adding the link.
Two episodes have had a deep impact on David Templeton’s life. The first was a career-damaging injury which happened on August 7, 2015, while he was playing for Rangers. The second was the recent birth of his son, Rhen, which he says has taught him that “nothing else really matters that much”.
The knee injury proved a blight on Templeton’s career and, in part, has ruined it. A fine winger of poise and balance, the block tackle he suffered that Friday night in a clash with St Mirren’s Stuart Carswell effectively put Templeton out of the game for two years and affected his fitness and power. And not the least of it was a mis-diagnosis and failed surgery in 2015 which only made matters worse.
Things had been looking good for Templeton when, seven years ago this week, he won the Third Division title with Ally McCoist and Rangers. “At first it felt incredible for me to sign for a club the size of Rangers, even though they were in the Third Division, and my first season there was very good,” he says. “I played a lot of games and we won the title that day after drawing with Montrose.
“But in my second and third seasons at the club I didn’t play so much: a combination of fitness or niggling injuries, plus Lewis Macleod was playing really well on the left, so I could have few complaints. And then, at the start of my fourth season at Rangers [2015-16], I got my injury.”
Templeton was 26 when he was struck down that night against St Mirren. The truth is, his career would never be the same again.
“It was my right knee and they just couldn’t get to the bottom of it,” he says. “I underwent surgery but it didn’t work. I was still in constant pain when I was trying to do certain things. They were giving me injections and even anti-depressant tablets, which they hoped might affect the nerves around the knee. But none of it was working. Clearly, something was still wrong.
“It was a nightmare for me. Mentally, it was very, very tough. I didn’t know if I’d ever play football again.”
It was only after leaving Rangers in 2016 that Templeton finally got his injury properly diagnosed. Andrew Williams, a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon based in London, agreed to see Templeton and assess his knee. Only then could the player be told what his real problem was.
“It took Andrew Williams to fix it. He decided to put a camera deep into my knee and he saw that there was a tear in a deep part of my medial ligament, close to the bone. I don’t think — though I’m not sure — it had been spotted before. So what Dr Williams did was insert a kind of anchor which kept my ligament connected to the bone. It was that which finally sorted me.
“I don’t know why the surgery first time round didn’t work. But it was incredibly frustrating for me.”
With his knee fixed, it still took Templeton a full year of rehab to get fit again and up to speed, and even then next to no-one was interested in him. He had lost almost two years of his career before Hamilton Accies offered him a short-term deal in March 2017, after which the winger more than proved his worth, among other things scoring for Accies in their first league win at Ibrox in 91 years in November 2017.
“Hamilton took a chance on me when no-one else was interested,” says Templeton. “It’s why I feel so grateful to the club and will probably want to stay. I did have to get further surgery done on my knee but I feel fine, I can be fit and go out there and play.”
Templeton did so well with Accies in 2017-18 that it persuaded Nigel Clough, manager of League One Burton Albion, to offer him a two-year deal in 2018. But, despite doing well at Burton, personal circumstances intervened when Templeton’s wife, Robyn, became pregnant and gave birth to a boy, named Rhen. Templeton says his life has changed indescribably.
“Having this wee boy has been the best feeling of my life,” he says. “It has been totally amazing. People often said, ‘wait til you have a kid, you won’t believe the feeling’, and now I know what they mean. Everything else in your life goes out the window. He is the only thing that really matters to me.
“When my wife fell pregnant I wanted to come back up the road. I spoke to Burton Albion and they agreed that I could leave and go back to Hamilton on loan for the rest of the season. Then they agreed a deal where I’d be paid-up, so that’s what happened. I just wanted to be back in Glasgow.
“Since Rhen was born all I’ve wanted to do was be with him. I was down in Burton, and I’d drive up after training on a Wednesday and drive back down on the Thursday. Likewise, after a game on a Saturday, I’d drive home to see him and my wife, and drive back down on the Sunday. I just want to be with him all the time, which is why I wanted back up the road.”
And how does Templeton feel now about his career? Is he financially secure, having played for Hearts, Rangers and Burton Albion? What of his future?
“I’m okay [financially] though I maybe could have been a bit wiser. I was a kid from Parkhead who wasn’t used to having money. Maybe I bought one fast car too many. Maybe I could have [saved] better but I’m okay now.
“When I returned to Hamilton in January I was signed until the summer before all of this [Covid-19] happened. We were still at the talking stage about my future but I’d like to stay at the club. Hamilton have been good to me, they took a chance on me back in 2017 when no-one else would. Plus, I was recently getting fitter, and had just played my first 90 minutes in a year before football was stopped. I’d like to think I’ve got plenty football left in me.”