It hasn’t been the easiest season for Pipa. One of the stars of last season before suffering a groin injury which he fended off for the good of the team in their relegation battle, the former Spain Under-21 international has spent the summer trying to get back into top shape before having to undergo surgery in August when those efforts proved fruitless.
It meant the right-back only made his first appearance for a much-improved Huddersfield Town side just before the start of the new year. By then the player signed in the summer to play replacement Ollie Turton had improved to the point that Pipa was struggling to move him from the starting line-up – a task that hasn’t was helped by a few minor injuries. setbacks and troubles.
Gradually, however, Pipa became more like her old self. He’s started three of Town’s last five games, including vital wins over Luton Town and Middlesbrough which propelled Carlos Corberan’s side clear of most of their fellow play-off prospects.
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City can now enter their final day showdown with Bristol City unburdened by the drama unfolding just below them in the table, where four teams will battle for the two remaining play-off spots alongside the Terriers and Nottingham forest.
Whether this created or resulted from the incredible spirit in Town’s camp is a matter of debate, though it is suspected to have been something of a virtuous cycle; and that atmosphere filtered down to Pipa even as he faced the frustration of having to work his way back from injury.
He said: “This season has been amazing: talking about the players, the team, everything. Compared to last season and other years I’ve played football, I think I can say it’s the one of the best. Many years in my career I haven’t been in a good time – I’ve always suffered or struggled not to be relegated or in a position in the middle of the table.
“It’s a special moment this year for everyone. It’s true that I was injured for a long time but I lived like the other players because you do the same here [at Canalside] and you can feel everyone’s happiness every day, so I was in the same frame of mind as them. For me, I think this will be the most important year for me.
Pipa admits the team’s good form this season has made it all the more frustrating to have to watch from the touchline during the first half of the season, but saying: “It’s true, it’s true! I remember when I got injured I couldn’t play the first games we played but I was on the pitch because I had never been here in England with fans in the stadium .
“So I was there watching the game and I knew I was going to be out for three or four months injured, and I saw the atmosphere in the stadium and I said ‘I want to play now’, but I Couldn’t! The feeling in the eyes of the stadium is incredible, so I was like ‘phew’ – every day – ‘I don’t want to go to the games because I want to play!’
“I think everything here is a bit more… everyone shouts more, depending of course on the pitch, because each stadium is different from the others. But in England, most of the supporters are good supporters: the whole match shouting, the whole match supporting the team, and it shows. In Spain, it’s true that we often feel it, but it’s different. I don’t know how to explain, but you have to be on both sides. I think it’s a good time here in the UK.
Those good times could be even better. Town are preparing for the play-off semi-finals after finishing in the top six with games to spare, and it may have come at the right time for Pipa as he gradually worked his way into Corberan’s first team with greater regularity. after this long layoff.
He said: “For everyone at the club, it’s a dream to go and play at Wembley in the final. It’s still a bit far, but I think if we can get to that moment, it will be so special for everyone. If we get there, we’ll be nervous and everything, but it’s a special moment that you’ll never forget in your life. It would be my first time, so hopefully we can make it happen.