Sad twist to serious Hird Jr injury
Essendon rookie Tom Hird has broken the navicular bone in his foot, the same crippling injury which floored legendary father James Hird in 1999.
Left-footed rising soccer star Tom Hird signed a two-year contract with the Bombers in March as a Category B rookie in a deal that thrilled the club's enormous supporter base.
But Hird, the eldest of James's three sons, was seen in a moon boot this week and scans have confirmed he is unlikely to play or train again in 2020.
"Tom will rest his foot for the next period and we will continue to monitor his progress but it will be a longer-term injury," Bombers football manager Dan Richardson said.
"It's a disappointing setback for Tom after his start with the club in recent months, and with the nature of navicular injuries, we will continue to take full caution approaching Tom's rehabilitation over the coming weeks."
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Father James Hird suffered a chronic foot problem in 1997 - the season after his Brownlow Medal triumph - and several operations failed to heal the rare injury.
Hird played just 22 games from 1997-1999 but made an emphatic return in 2000, winning the Norm Smith Medal, Anzac Day Medal and All-Australian selection in Essendon's near-perfect season.
Tom Hird had been progressing nicely since giving soccer the boot. He did not nominate for last year's national draft.
The 180cm talent had the potential to crack the A-League, but will instead spend two years developing at Tullamarine with his income excluded from the club's salary cap.
Hird was eligible to be signed as a Category B rookie - which are usually reserved for international players and elite sportsmen from rival codes - because he has not been listed at any football team for the past three years.
Hird has never played representative Aussie rules and trialled with soccer giant Stoke City as a 15-year-old before a recent trial in the Netherlands.
His father and former Bombers coach James Hird said he was "shocked" by his son's decision to pursue an AFL career after focusing on soccer throughout his teens.
"I think (Tom's mother) Tania and I were both pretty shocked actually that he chose to go down this path," Hird told the Working Through It podcast in April.
"He'd been going very well in his soccer, both here and overseas so we were a bit taken aback that he wanted to go down that path but he and (general manager of list and recruiting) Adrian Dodoro must have been concocting some plan without us knowing.
"Obviously now he's down that path, we're fully supportive and he's training very hard."
- with Kate Salemme
Originally published as Sad twist to serious Hird Jr injury