Bruce and Figueroa reunion could prove vital to Hull’s season
Maynor Figueroa's decision to sign for the Premier League newcomers surprised many observers, given his reputation as one of the best left-sided defenders in the top flight. Several other managers had expressed an interest in the out-of-contract defender - with Sam Allardyce’s West Ham looking the likely destination for his services. But the Honduran international defender’s affinity with former Wigan manager Steve Bruce proved to be the deciding factor in his move to the KC Stadium.
July 2nd, 2013
Bruce brought Figueroa to England in January 2008 from the Honduran side Deportivo Olimpia and he has been a mainstay in the Premier League with Wigan ever since. Bruce had been chasing the signature of Figueroa for some considerable time, and he tried to sign him when manager of Sunderland. Bruce understands the importance of a strong backline, and was desperate to get Figueroa’s Premiership quality into the Tigers defence.
The 5 ft 11 in left-footer is versatile and can play as a centre-back, full-back or wing-back. Although he is now 30 years old, he was still regarded as one of the fittest players in the Wigan squad last season. He is also vastly experienced at both club and international level – with 200 appearances for the Latics and nearly a century of international caps for Honduras.
During his time in the North West he had a reputation for scoring spectacular goals; the most remarkable being his free kick from the half way line against Stoke City in 2009, which won him the Goal of the Season Award for 2009/10.
Originally signed on loan by Bruce in 2008, Figueroa had quickly adapted to the demands of the Premier League and was snapped up on a three-and-a-half year contract. His athleticism, physical presence and determination endeared him to the Wigan fans.
Bruce departed for Sunderland in June 2009, but Figueroa established himself in a defence that was more often than not facing a relegation battle. Figueroa was instrumental in helping Wigan to defy the odds and retain their Premier League status for eight seasons. He played a key role in several great escapes – including the last day drama away at Stoke City in 2011, when he crossed the ball for Hugo Rodallega to score the all-important winner.
He had to sit out the final games of last season including the FA Cup win with a groin injury, but many Wigan watchers felt that if Figueroa had been available for the final games, the team would not have been relegated.
Figueroa certainly has the pedigree to be a great success at the KC Stadium and his capture could prove to be a masterstroke by Steve Bruce, as the club looks to establish themselves at the top level.
Photo of Maynor Figueroa licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Photo by [http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected] Nick] from Bristol, UK
Ian Aspinall is a freelance football writer who lives in Yorkshire. Ian is the founder and editor of www.lets-hang-on.com – a blog about the highs and lows of following Wigan Athletic. He writes a monthly column for Footballscores.com about Hull City and has written for When Saturday Comes and Sabotage Times. You can follow him on Twitter @IanHAspinall