How former Wolves forward Michal Zyro is still defying the odds
A fixture between Wolves and Fulham provided Michal Zyro with a major early highlight from what proved an altogether too fleeting Molineux career. Despite seeing opportunity slip painfully away through no fault of his own, the affable Polish international still harbours happy memories of his time in WV1.
Normally, after an away win, the scene in the visitors dressing room and around the tunnel is very much a loud and vibrant one. Players buzzing, posing for pictures, chatting incessantly, full of vigour and verve.
Not on this occasion.
Back in April 2016, Wolves had just won 2-1 at MK Dons.
Coming back from conceding an early goal, quickfire responses from George Saville and Jack Price – his second and last goal for the club – made for an ultimately entertaining away win and a pleasant trip home for Wolves fans who will forever love and cherish an entertaining away win.
The result meant far more to MK Dons, threatened by relegation which is how their season eventually ended, than it did for Wolves, barely a few months away from Fosun’s takeover, and in a season where stability was the number one ambition after Steve Morgan had put the club up for sale.
Yet there was an air of doom and gloom which enveloped the visitors and not the hosts. The Wolves dressing room, and sizeable concourse-like space surrounding it, was a quiet and sombre place.
And that was all because of the serious and career-threatening injury sustained by forward Michal Zyro.
Just before half time, Zyro, who, apart from a brief interruption due to a calf injury, had made a promising start to his Wolves career, was charging down the left hand side.
The ball was in the air around the halfway line, and, as Zyro knocked it on, defender Antony Kay delivered a crude challenge at speed with his studs catching the Wolves winger on his knee.
Zyro suffered damage to his cruciate and lateral knee ligaments, and a fracture to the inside of his knee. Kay received a yellow card.
MK Dons boss Karl Robinson, who later took Zyro on loan to Charlton, contacted Wolves Head Coach Kenny Jackett to wish the player well in his recovery, and the MK Dons medical team kept in touch with their Molineux counterparts.
But Zyro never received an apology from the player concerned.
It’s an injury which has continued to cause him issues for the last seven-and-a-half years, and, less than a fortnight ago, he underwent minor surgery to remove some fluid which leaves him facing more rehabilitation with his current club, Wisla Krakow.
“Ever since that night I have had to do a lot of work to manage the knee, every single day, and still suffer from issues linked to that incident,” says Zyro.
“The fact it was just a yellow card, and that it wasn’t made anything bigger or looked into by the FA, is something which messes with my head to be honest.
“I could never have thought that I would get an injury which would affect me so much for so long afterwards.”
That was the worst of the worst for Zyro at Wolves. The beginning of the end, given it left him on the sidelines for almost 18 months and with too much to do when back in first team contention as Nuno’s extraordinary revolution took hold.
But if we go back to the beginning for Zyro at Molineux, there is a far more positive tale to tell.
His debut came in an FA Cup tie at West Ham’s former Boleyn Ground when they were in the Premier League and Wolves the Championship, a battling overall display denied a replay only by a late goal from Nikica Jelavic.
Then his league debut, and Molineux bow to boot, came against Wolves’ next opponents, Fulham.
Inside six minutes, he cushioned the ball down after a cross reached him inside the penalty area before a clinical finish.
After 13, he latched onto a pass over the top to outpace the Fulham defence, calmly slipping it past future Wolf, Andy Lonergan.
Two quickfire goals to quickly announce Zyro to his new fanbase. In celebrating the second, he slowly fell to the floor.
He laughs at the memory.
“I still have that celebration as a Gif on my phone!”
Wolves won the game 3-2 thanks to a long-range third from Matt Doherty, and Zyro notched again next time out, although this time in a home defeat, 3-1 at the hands of Cardiff.
But then a first injury struck, a calf problem keeping him out for seven weeks, the four-capped senior Polish international putting it down to the quickfire change in environment.
Not so much the physical challenge or quality that was required – he arrived for £300,000 from a very good standard in Legia Warsaw in the Polish top-flight and had the strength and stature to succeed in the Championship. It was more down to the time of year and his regular routine as he made the move at a time when the Polish League would normally have been taking a lengthy Winter break.
“I remember speaking to Kenny about coming to Wolves and travelling over a couple of days before New Year’s Eve,” Zyro recalls.