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Club news

A Tribute: Thanks for the memories, Cal


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

The man with the booming laugh certainly put plenty of smiles on the faces of AFC Bournemouth supporters.

Callum Wilson played a major role in the Cherries’ rise to the Premier League and the club remaining at the top table for five years.

From the day he first walked through the door in July 2014, you could see he oozed confidence and had faith in his own ability.

His infectious personality struck me during our first meeting at Canford School when he spoke about his burning desire to be a success and his ambition to ply his trade at the highest level.

Signed following an eye-catching breakthrough season with hometown club Coventry City in League One, Wilson’s interviews were always laced with humour and humility but never arrogance.

“I would never refuse anybody a photo, I’m not that type of guy,” said the striker after his exploits had earned him international recognition with England.

“When you retire, you will probably miss people recognising you so you have to enjoy it while it lasts.”

Upon signing a then 22-year-old Wilson, manager Eddie Howe said he hoped the frontman’s “best seasons could come in a Cherries shirt”.

And while it remains to be seen whether Howe’s comment will ring true following his move to Newcastle, Wilson certainly gave Cherries fans numerous memorable moments.

If few people outside Coventry had ever heard of him before he joined the Cherries, Wilson wasted little time in announcing his arrival by scoring twice on his debut.

His double in a resounding 4-0 win at Huddersfield Town on the opening day of the 2014/15 campaign set the tone for a magical season for the player, the club and the supporters.

Wilson’s 23 goals in all competitions spearheaded the Cherries to the Championship title, the striker missing just one league game in his maiden season.

His rich vein of form in front of goal continued into the club’s debut campaign in the top flight, Wilson hitting five in the first six games of 2015/16.

The milestones included the club’s first goal in the Premier League and a first hat-trick in the top flight, Wilson roasting West Ham on a boiling hot day in east London.

However, his footballing world came crashing down when Wilson suffered the first of two serious knee injuries at Stoke in September 2015.

A lesser man could have thrown in the towel and called it a day but Wilson vowed to come back stronger. And he did.

Having displayed all his fighting qualities during a painstaking seven-month rehabilitation, Wilson returned in April 2016 and added six Premier League goals during the first half of 2016/17.

But he was rocked again when he sustained another career-threatening knee injury in February 2017, Wilson again showing his steely determination to overcome a second period of adversity.

On just his second Premier League start following a nine-month absence, Wilson was rewarded for his efforts when he hit his second top-flight hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Huddersfield.

Wilson celebrated 2018/19 by winning the Golden Boot at Vitality Stadium, his 16 goals including 14 in the Premier League and a maiden strike for his country in a 3-0 win over USA at Wembley.

“Whether or not you have success in life, you always have to remain the same,” said Wilson in reply to a question about whether international recognition had changed him.

Cal, thanks for the memories.

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