The opening day of the season. Soaring temperatures. Renewed enthusiasm. And fans across the land dream about their team’s prospects of the season. This time last year, Leicester City fans did dream; but they would of not believed what would happen throughout the season.
We all know that one statistic: no reigning Premier League champion has been defeated in their opening game of the season.
Not anymore, as Claudio Raneiri’s men made history – this time, however, history they would not have liked to make.
The opening day of the 2015-16 season, Snodgrass had one of his worst day’s in professional football. An injury to his knee-cap, kept the Scot out for 16 months.
The opening day of the 2016-17 season will be one that he will remember more fondly.
SHOOT takes a look at Hull City’s match winner as he kick-started the world’s most unpredictable Premier League in the most impulsive of circumstances…
Where did it all begin for Snodgrass?
Snodgrass was born in the heart of East Glasgow, and after being introduced to the beautiful game by his primary school football coach Colin Syne – a man who was his biggest inspiration in the game – he was hooked.
His childhood, like most teenage kids, was dominated by playing street football with jumpers for goalposts. Growing up in this end of Glasgow was tough, with gangs being a norm within the city, but football was his release.
So when Celtic; his boyhood club, offered him an apprenticeship at the age of 16, he would snatch it with both hands, right?
Not necessarily, with interest from Livingstone and Clyde also. And it was Livingston who he opted for in the end, claiming that he would not get an opportunity to progress his career at Parkhead.
But progress he did as he became a star man in the Lions’ academy. As a result, Snodgrass attracted interest across the continent – including from FC Barcelona, where he was offered a trial.
But he carried on his football in West Lothian, and declined an offer from Blackburn Rovers to sign professional back in 2004, making his debut in September of that year in a fixture against Kilmarnock. He began to cement himself within the first-team set-up at the Almondvale Stadium.
But the following season was a season Snodgrass and his teammates will want to forget. Livingston finished bottom of the Scottish Premier League, some 15 points off safety. Snodgrass would be playing second-tier Scottish football.
That’s what he thought at least. The following season, on a personal level, was even more depressing as he broke his metatarsal.
With Livingston even struggling at this level, it was too much of a risk for the future Scottish international to feature.
So he made the move out on loan. It was trip some 40 minutes up the M9 to Stirling Athletic. After impressing in the Scottish Second Division, he could finally dream about featuring for Livingston once again.
What happened next?
It was here where he started to make a name for himself. Nine goals in 31 appearances didn’t just attract interest from other Scottish clubs, but from south of the border. He was offered a trial at Oakwell, but failed to impress the Barnsley hierarchy. He did however, impress the historic Leeds United. It seemed a no brainer; his next destination was Elland Road.
After Wembley defeat, you could not argue if Snodgrass – a rather unknown before his trip to Yorkshire – was left on the bench. That was not the case, as he impressed – scoring his first goal in his second appearance in a fixture over Chester in the League Cup.
He carried on consistently performing for the Whites, and scored a crucial boxing day equaliser against leaders, and eventual champions, Leicester to earn a late point for Simon Grayson’s men.
But it was a familiar story for Leeds fans at the end of the season; play-off heartbreak, meaning another season in League One beckoned.
Things were a bit different the following season however, and 25 league goals from Jermaine Beckford, as well as seven strikes from Snodgrass, guided the Yorkshire side back into the Championship; Snodgrass came on as a late substitute in a 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers on a memorable day at Elland Road.
From the Scottish Second Division, to the Championship in only a few years; the dream couldn’t get any more magical, right?
How did he cope in the Championship?
That did look to be the case, when Snodgrass went down injured in a friendly against Norwegian side Brann just weeks before the season started. It was diagnosed as a knee injury; he would at least be out for a month and a half.
He eventually made his return in mid-September, and from that point showed that his ability could match this division as he shown why exactly, the season before, he was named as one of the best players in the third-tier at the annual PFA awards.
After being sent off in a fixture against fierce Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United, Snodgrass picked up his first goal at this level in October at Portman Road; a consolation goal it might have been, but it proved his quality.
Imposing performances throughout January earned him the Player of the Month Award and despite missing the end of the season with a back injury, it would be a notable season for the Scot, a season he would never forget.
Inevitably interest from across the land was high for his services as he embarked on his second season at this level. The Whites imposed an £8m fee, ruling out a move for the Scot to the Premier League.
Not to worry. He started his season, as he performed throughout the last, But when Neil Warnock took up the reigns in January; there was only player he could give the captaincy to, Snodgrass.
Thirteen goals and 14 assists however made him an ideal target for teams in England’s top division. This time he would make the move. It was a switch to East Anglia.
How did he reach this point of his career?
The opening day of the 2012-13 season involved a trip to Craven Cottage, quite a contrast to playing in front of only a handful of supporters in his early days in Scotland. Despite the score not going in Norwich City’s favour (it ended 5-0 to Martin Jol’s Fulham) it was a day that Snodgrass would never forget; he could now call himself a Premier League player.
It was no big surprise that his first goal in the world’s greatest division came just four games into his spell at Carrow Road, as he scored a decisive equaliser in a fixture against Tottenham – it’s not a bad way to introduce yourself to the Canaries supporters.
While he had to wait until April 2013 to wait for his first goal at Carrow Road, he continued to constantly perform in the yellow shirt of Norwich. So much so that he only narrowly missed out on the club’s Player of the Year award to Sebastien Bassong.
But was it a one season wonder? Based on his performances in the 2013-14 season, the answer to that question is quite simply no.
It was this season where he scored a wonderful free kick against West ham United from 20 yards; it was also the campaign where he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Tottenham – Norwich’s first league victory over Spurs at home since April 1991.
It couldn’t be going any better for Snodgrass, despite the Canaries disappointment on the pitch, as it was confirmed on the last day of the season that they would be playing Championship football for the first time 2011. Not Snodgrass, however.
He made the move to West Yorkshire, where he put-pen-to-paper on a three-year deal with Hull City. Another season in England’s top-flight beckoned. Or at least that is what he thought.
August 16, 2014, was the darkest day in the career of the Scottish international, as he picked up a serious injury to his knee cap. It kept him out of professional football for 16 months.
By the time he made his return to professional football, Hull were a Championship side as the Tigers endured relegation from the Premier League on the final day of the 2014-15 season. His objective: to guide the Tigers back to the Promised Land.
It took some hard work, but the target finally became a reality when, on a bright May’s afternoon, Hull were promoted back to the Premier League.
What about his international career?
Snodgrass has always been a proud Scotsman, and has represented his nation at every level since Under-20. It was nice to feature at such a level, but he still had his eye’s on senior football.
After impressing in the white shirt of Leeds, he was finally awarded his first cap with the senior side in 2011 when Craig Levein gave him his debut in a fixture over Northern Ireland; however, it was not the first time he was involved around the Scottish national side, as in 2009 he was forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury.
From that point onwards, Snodgrass has established himself in the plans of the SFA, scoring his first goal against Denmark in August 2011.
Injury prevented him from featuring in any of Scotland’s games of the Euro 2016 qualification campaign. So would he be welcomed back? The answer to that question is yes, as he made his return to international football in March of this year in a fixture over the Czech Republic.