It has been a whirlwind week for Brighton & Hove Albion defender Lewis Dunk, who put pen to paper on a new four-year deal with the club on Friday afternoon.
For six days earlier, the 22-year-old became the proud father of son Freddie after a frantic dash from Albion’s pre-season training camp in Spain to be present at the birth with his partner Abi.
Dunk explained, “I was woken up by Gibbo (player liaison manager Steve Gibbon) in the morning and he told me that my girlfriend’s waters had broken. I don’t think I’ve ever panicked as much as I did right then!
“We weren't due to fly back until late that night, so I had to book a flight as quickly as I could so that I could try and get back in time for the birth.
“It was really stressful on the plane because I couldn’t get any texts or phonecalls, so I was dreading landing and finding out that I had missed the birth!
“Abi was already in hospital when I eventually got there at 4pm, but thankfully I made it in time and Freddie was born at 1am the next morning. It was amazing and they’re both doing really well.”
It has been a challenging couple of years off the pitch for the talented centre-half, who is only now just beginning to put his court nightmare behind him.
Dunk now hopes the double whammy of his new arrival and his new contract will herald a fresh start to his career.
“It’s amazing to sign the new deal, especially as I’ve been at the club since I was ten. It’s great that I’ll be at the club for another four years.
“The last couple of years have been a real struggle for me, but I’ve come through it for the better now. I’m concentrating on my football as much as I can, and my new deal will help me to progress even more.
“It’s been very tough. Things go spinning through the back of your mind all the time and it is difficult to focus on your football. It has halted my career for two years really and I haven’t played very much. It’s just good to get it out of my mind now and try to start again.
“This feels like a fresh start, so I’m just going to work as hard as I can and try to impress the new manager and get as many games as I can this season.
“I’ve had to do a lot of growing up over the last nine months. I’m not just thinking about myself any more, I’ve got to provide my family now. Hopefully this will benefit me in my playing career as well.”