Welwyn Garden City’s Dominic Ball restores love of football under the northern lights of old Aberdeen

PUBLISHED: 15:10 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:14 04 May 2020

CelticÕs Scott Sinclair (right) and AberdeenÕs Dominic Ball (left) battle for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park in March 2019. Picture: JEFF HOLMES/PA

CelticÕs Scott Sinclair (right) and AberdeenÕs Dominic Ball (left) battle for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park in March 2019. Picture: JEFF HOLMES/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

For Welwyn Garden City’s Dominic Ball the secret to his success in football is simply down to enjoyment – although it took a move to the far north of Scotland before he discovered it.

Aberdeen's Dominic Ball and Rangers Ryan Kent during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium in April 2019. Picture: IAN RUTHERFORD/PAAberdeen's Dominic Ball and Rangers Ryan Kent during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Stadium in April 2019. Picture: IAN RUTHERFORD/PA

The former Welwyn Pegasus junior was enjoying a successful run in the Queens Park Rangers side prior to the coronavirus lockdown but it has not been an easy road for the 24-year-old.

Having had a number of knockbacks as a junior and being released by Tottenham Hotspur, he found himself at Rotherham United in 2017 and facing another loan in order to get games.

It took him to Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League but it also saw the defender-cum-midfield man suffer the lowest point of his career.

Sheffield Wednesday's Joey Pelupessy (left) and Queens Park Rangers' Dominic Ball battle for the ball during the FA Cup fourth round match at Loftus Road. Picture: BRADLEY COLLYER/PASheffield Wednesday's Joey Pelupessy (left) and Queens Park Rangers' Dominic Ball battle for the ball during the FA Cup fourth round match at Loftus Road. Picture: BRADLEY COLLYER/PA

Speaking on the All Things Football podcast alongside brother Matt he said: “Aberdeen were the only option but they wanted me as a midfielder and being so young and naïve I had convinced myself I was a defender.

“I was playing against six-foot four units and I’m barely six foot one and yet I thought I was a Championship defender.

“That was me just being stupid. I should have tried midfield when the coaches wanted me to.

Nottingham Forest's Sammy Ameobi and QPR's Dominic Ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at the City Ground. Picture: SCOTT WILSON/PANottingham Forest's Sammy Ameobi and QPR's Dominic Ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at the City Ground. Picture: SCOTT WILSON/PA

“I wasn’t playing at Rotherham so I thought I might as well play at Aberdeen in a position I don’t think I can play. But going there was the toughest four months of my career.

“I hadn’t played for six months competitively and I wasn’t fit.

“I struggled in the first two games and the manager didn’t play me for three months.

Aberdeen's Dominic Ball  during the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter final match against Rangers at Pittodrie Stadium in March 2019. Picture: JEFF HOLMES/PAAberdeen's Dominic Ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter final match against Rangers at Pittodrie Stadium in March 2019. Picture: JEFF HOLMES/PA

“During that time I was living in a flat on my own, refused to really integrate with the lads.

“I was putting every hour of every day in. I was doing meditation in the morning before going to training, just to try and visualise how my day would go and if I hadn’t done everything on my list, like core work, stretching, a bit of analysis of the best players, I was going to bed guilty.

“With that intensity and not playing, it got to the point where I hated it. I was literally coming home from training and just lying in bed. I’d even convinced myself I was ill and allergic to the carpet and I forced the club to move my flat.

Queens Park Rangers' Dominic Ball (left) and Derby County's Max Lowe battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Loftus Road. Picture: MARK KERTON/PAQueens Park Rangers' Dominic Ball (left) and Derby County's Max Lowe battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Loftus Road. Picture: MARK KERTON/PA

“I was at a low point. I didn’t have anyone up there. I was bored, I was lonely and I didn’t know if I’d go back after Christmas.”

And it took a few choice words from his brother to suddenly make things click.

Dom said: “Matt rang and I wasn’t going to pick up the phone but if he was ringing rather than texting then I knew he wanted to say something important.

Sheffield Wednesday's Jordan Rhodes (left) and Queens Park Rangers' Dominic Ball battle for the ball during the FA Cup fourth round match at Loftus Road. Picture: BRADLEY COLLYER/PASheffield Wednesday's Jordan Rhodes (left) and Queens Park Rangers' Dominic Ball battle for the ball during the FA Cup fourth round match at Loftus Road. Picture: BRADLEY COLLYER/PA

“He sort of got angry at me and he said I was getting in the way of my own career.

“He told me to stop doing extras, stop going to the gym, stop working with my psychologist, stop thinking about football and go and enjoy it.

“I’d been off my game for over a year and a half and I had tried everything to get back to performing and playing well.

“The only thing I hadn’t tried was not trying. Other people had said it to me but at that time and coming from Matt, my older brother, it hit home.

“I was playing football to enjoy it and I wasn’t so I thought stop all of this. I stopped over thinking things and from there football turned around for me.

“I still didn’t play in the next two months but I was going to training and enjoying it. I was having a laugh with the manager, I made good friends, I was doing things with the lads and I was happy.

“And when I got my chance I didn’t think I had to be amazing, I just enjoyed it and stopped playing with so much fear and pressure.”

Following another year at Pittodrie he moved back to England with QPR and a manager, Mark Warburton, who had played under twice previously.

“He trusts me and plays my style of football so there was only one choice,” admitted Ball.

“I had a lot to prove and each game I played and each run of games I’ve had I’ve just got better.

“The last eight were some of my best.”

To listen to the full podcast go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuHiUZiyeL0


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