FOOTBALLER Nicky Hill has one thing in common with David Beckham - the same hand injury. And that is where the comparison stops.
While Becks - who injured his hand on England duty - is lauding it up in Spain following his big-money transfer to Real Madrid, Oswaldtwistle's Nicky is wondering what to do next.
The defender was released from Bury FC in the summer and is one of more than 600 footballers now searching for a new club.
He is having trials with Nationwide Conference side Leigh RMI although he has had to sort out the fractured bone in his hand which has been plaguing him for a year.
"I've got the same hand injury as Beckham but he's just gone for £25m and I have been released. That is where the similarity stops!" said the 22-year-old. I had been at Bury nine years and it is hard. I knew my time was coming to an end because of the financial problems they have there.
"All summer I have been thinking about what I can do next. That is the hardest thing. I need to go out and get some qualifications but I just don't know what to do. I feel like I am in limbo. It is hard knowing that I am not going to be training full-time every day and having a banter with the lads but life goes on. And there is no reason why I can't go back into professional football."
Striker Brett Ormerod is a prime example of how taking a step back to go forward is not always a bad thing. The former Stanley man, released from Blackburn Rovers, now plays for Southampton.
"That would be a dream come true!" laughed Hill. "But Brett has done well. He has scored goals everywhere he has been and nearly scored in the FA Cup final. Players like that do offer hope to people like me."
Hill went to Mount Carmel School and played for West End junior side.
"We played quite a lot of local finals on the Crown Ground so it will be weird if I do sign up for Leigh and play there," he said, with Leigh due to visit the Reds for the second game of the season.
"A lot of my mates go down to Stanley and, when I was at Bury, I felt me and Steve Halford, who now plays at Stanley, had a strong central defensive partnership. I would enjoy running out onto my home town pitch though."
It has been a stop-start career for Hill at Gigg Lane. He made his debut at Cardiff in 2000 as a 19-year-old and played the last six games of that season. He was confident he would be involved more the season after but again just played the last nine games.
Last season, he started for Bury once and was sub, although he played in a number of the LDV Vans games.
He said: "I had talked to the manager and I knew, with the collapse of ITV Digital and the finances at Bury FC, that I wasn't going to be kept on. I had time to get used to it.
"I had been there since I was 12 or 13, but every time I got into the first team and I thought I was in for a run, someone else would come in."
He knew Leigh boss Mark Patterson from their days at Bury - although Patterson was a first team player while Hill was in the youth side. "I had gone on loan at Leigh during Christmas so I knew Mark and he said if I got released to get in touch. There is a contract there for me but it does depend on my injury. It was an innocuous tackle in training last pre-season but I put off doing anything about it until the end of the season as I knew I wouldn't be able to play.
"Now I have just got to hope it clears up. I have just had my pot off so we will see how it goes. I have got to get fitter - and now I've got to get a job. I don't have a clue what to do though. I have never been in this position before."