Despite spending nine months on the English Riviera, lazy days in the sun were the furthest thing from Sam Sherring’s mind.
For a lot of professional footballers, the off-season is a time for recharging the batteries, with perhaps an exotic holiday on the agenda.
On Friday, Sherring returned to Vitality Stadium for the start of pre-season with the AFC Bournemouth under-21s – just four days after making his final appearance of a loan spell with Torquay United.
The defender made 49 appearances for the Devon outfit, whose season culminated in defeat at the hands of Hartlepool United in the National League promotion final on Sunday.
A level-headed and fiercely-determined individual, Sherring has no issue with the schedule, preferring to focus on the benefits it could bring to his future.
“I’m sure there will be plenty of time for lying on the beach when I’m retired!” laughed the 21-year-old, who has been on the Cherries’ books since he was seven.
“It’s a short career and I’m hungry to do well. I want to achieve things in football and you have to make sacrifices. I’m looking forward to kicking on and making the most of it.
“I had four days off between playing in the final and coming back for pre-season. I haven’t done too much to be honest.
“I have tried to catch up on some sleep because the final was physically and emotionally draining. At the start of the week, I packed up my stuff in Torquay, drove home and saw my mum and dad.
“Now, I need to get my head on for a fresh start and prepare for the new season.
“I played nearly 50 games so I’m never going to be fitter at the start of a pre-season. I’m at an age where, hopefully, my body can cope.
“I want to hit the ground running in pre-season and I’m excited to get back to it. I’m not someone who wants a long break and wants to relax.
“I felt I did well at Torquay and, hopefully, I’ve improved. I learned a great deal and now want to show that to the people at Bournemouth. I just want to keep developing and keep getting better as a player and see where it takes me.”
Sherring was a mainstay of the Gulls defence as they finished the regulation season as runners-up to Sutton United having led the table for the majority of the campaign.
With him at the back, they won 24 of 42 league games and kept 17 clean sheets. Sherring also scored three times, including a dramatic late winner at Wrexham in April.
His exploits earned him a place in league sponsors Vanarama’s team of the season which was announced ahead of the promotion final at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate.
Torquay’s bid for a return to the Football League ended in controversial circumstances after they had two headers from Kyle Cameron ruled out against Pools.
Although goalkeeper Lucas Covolan’s dramatic injury-time equaliser took the clash to extra-time, the Gulls were eventually beaten 5-4 in a penalty shootout.
Sherring added: “The biggest feeling was one of disappointment. It’s a long season and I felt we deserved to get promoted on the strength of our performances.
“We all felt we had two goals wrongly disallowed in the final. It was disappointing but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be on the day. Although it was difficult to take at the time, you have to accept it, move on and learn from it.
“The loan spell as a whole was a great experience. Initially, I only went for a month and then it got extended.
“I was very happy to make 49 appearances. As a young centre-half, to play 49 times for a team challenging at the top of the National League was invaluable experience.
“Everyone at the club was brilliant with me and I felt I came on so much. It was the perfect opportunity for me and I’m so grateful for that.
“In 49 games, you are going to have lots of highs and lows. Beating Yeovil 6-1 on Boxing Day was nice because there is a bit of rivalry there.
“Winning at Sutton was also a good feeling because we were both challenging for the title. I don’t score too many goals but getting a 93rd-minute winner at Wrexham was a big personal high.
“We lost 6-5 to Crawley in the FA Cup and, for the neutral, it must have been one of the most entertaining games of the season. The magic of the cup, as they say!
“As a defender, you don’t want to concede six goals. It was disappointing to lose but it was a freak game.
“When I look back, it will be with fond memories because it was a good experience and great to be part of it.
“Gary Johnson, the manager (pictured above), was brilliant with me from the first day. It’s difficult for any manager to put in an unproven 20-year-old centre-half, especially as it was my first loan in the National League.
“But he had faith in me and believed in me. He was always talking to me and had good staff around him.
“I owe it all to them and am grateful they have me a chance. There were ups and downs but they stuck with me and I can’t thank them enough.”