Former Bayern Munich winger now looking to rebuild career in the 9th tier after difficult times

Former Bayern Munich winger now looking to rebuild career in the 9th tier after difficult times

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Having made one of the most surprising transfers in history six years ago, Dale Jennings is now looking to make headlines once more in England’s non-league.

Dale Jennings, who made headlines in 2012 by signing for Bayern Munich from Tranmere Rovers as an 18 year old, has signed for North West Counties Premier League outfit Runcorn Town.

The winger, who is now 25, scored on his debut last Saturday in a 3-0 win over Silsden and is now relishing his opportunity to start climbing back up the footballing pyramid.

Jennings’ move to Germany just over six years ago was, as you can imagine, the subject of much media attention. Never before has a player moved to one of the biggest clubs in the world from a side struggling in the English third-tier, but here he was at just 18 years of age fulfilling every young lads dream.

The former Liverpool trainee captured the attention of both West Ham and Everton following a series of impressive performances for Tranmere in League One, but when former Liverpool midfielder Didier Hamann set up a meeting with Bayern, a deal between the two clubs was made within a week.

“When the manager said ‘can I have a word with you?’ I thought I was in trouble! He said Bayern had been in contact and I thought he was having me on,” said Jennings when speaking to BBC Sport earlier this week.

“It went over my head because I didn’t really realise how big a move it was. I just wanted to play football so I didn’t really care at the time. It was unheard of for anyone to move to Bayern Munich from Tranmere.

“I just wanted to see what it was like in Germany and the different style of play they had there.” He added.

Misfortune with injuries and difficulties with the language hindered Jennings progress in Germany

A string of serious injury’s and problems with learning the language massively hindered Jennings’ progress in Germany however, and just 18 months into his three-year contract at Munich, he was sold to then-Championship side Barnsley for £250,000.

“I tried to learn the language for about six months but I struggled,” said Jennings.

“I felt it was affecting my play as I was too worried about trying to learn to speak German rather than putting the performances in on the pitch. It got a bit too much for me and the club told me just to concentrate on my football.”

Unfortunately for Jennings, his return to England was again hindered by further injury setbacks. Because of this, he failed to make an impact at Barnsley and subsequently joined MK Dons in 2015, having previously spent a short time there on loan.

Jennings struggled with injury at Barnsley and left the club by mutual consent in 2015.

“You suffer mentally so, so badly.”

Yet another severe knee injury ruled Jennings out for a further six months upon joining MK Dons, and a mutual decision was made to terminate the midfielder’s contract prematurely.

“There is no worse feeling as a player than having to sit on the sidelines watching your team-mates when you want to be out there playing.

It was demoralising. Every time I felt I was getting into good shape, there was something which knocked me back.” Said Jennings.

Suffering with continuous injuries and without a club, the young footballer’s world came further crashing down when he learned the devastating news that is daughter, Mila, was diagnosed with leukaemia.

“Nothing else mattered then. It was about being with my daughter.

I wanted to be there 24/7 so football was the last thing on my list of things I wanted to do,” said Jennings, before adding:

“It was tough. There were days when I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t move. My girlfriend and my kids were the only things that were motivating me to get up and do it.”

“You suffer mentally so, so badly.”

Mila has now been receiving treatment for the last 14 months, with the family hoping to get the all-clear by the end of the year. Jennings admitted that the three-year break he has had from football has made him realise just how much he missed the game, and he is now looking forward to helping his new side, Runcorn Town in their quest to win the North West Counties Premier League and earn promotion to the Northern League Division One West next term, just like rivals Runcorn Linnets did last season.

The Cheshire outfit are currently second in the league, just two points behind first-placed City of Liverpool FC and welcome Guisborough Town this Saturday in the first round of the FA Vase. Jennings will be hoping to build on his debut goal last weekend and help his new side progress through to the next round of the prestigious all non-league competition.

“I feel like I have that mentality back from when I was a 16-year-old running around for Tranmere,” he said. “I just want to win games and progress as high as I can. I am enjoying my football again.”

All quotes from this article have been taken from the interview Dale Jennings recently conducted with BBC Sport.

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