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Hull City captain Lewie Coyle used football as an escape following the death of his father in 2022… now almost two years later he is desperate to take his hometown club back to the Premier League

To the outside world, life for Lewie Coyle couldn’t be much better. He captains his hometown club Hull City, who are just outside the Championship play-off places, he is playing the best football of his career and in February last year he became a father when his son Ezrah was born.

But all that only makes it harder for Coyle to accept that his father, Chris, is no longer there to see it. Chris, a former champion coachbuilder who became a legendary market trader in Hull, died in June 2022 aged 59.

‘It was very tough. We lost Dad very suddenly…” Coyle’s voice breaks and as the emotion shows on his face, he asks for a moment to collect himself.

‘It’s still incredibly difficult not having him around. I probably find it harder now than initially, because the longer you don’t have him, the more you realize you’ll never see him again.

‘He has never met my son, which I think is incredibly cool. I wish he was here to see that everything he sacrificed while we were growing up paid off for me and my three brothers.

Lewie Coyle talks about the loss of his father and his ambitions at Hull City

Lewie Coyle captains his hometown club Hull City, who are just outside the Championship play-off places

Lewie Coyle captains his hometown club Hull City, who are just outside the Championship play-off places

‘We are grateful that my father made us the way he did. He taught us that toughness, that resilience that we had to show to be able to do what we do without him again. But I still have trouble talking about him not being there. I miss him.’

Coyle, who became Hull captain a month after his father’s death, found last season incredibly tough but used football as an escape.

‘I have never missed a day of training in my time due to the loss of my father. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The day after the funeral was probably the only day I didn’t want to play football.

“I don’t mind saying that I didn’t initially honor him in the best way possible after we lost him. To the outside world, they probably think that I have handled it very well, but that is not the case. I have struggled with many things.

‘Football has certainly helped me get back on track. That’s the best way to honor my father and thank him for everything he did for me.”

It wasn’t just football that helped Coyle through his grief, but also the birth of son Ezrah. “Three days after my father passed away, we found out my partner, Aaliyah, was pregnant,” he says. “She didn’t know how to say that to me or if it was the right time, but we now look at it as my father’s way of saying, ‘son, this is your reason now.’

‘I had a hard time with him at first because all I wanted to do was see my dad holding him. I know exactly what he would think of him, what he would say and the way he would hold him.

“That’s the closest and it breaks my heart every day that he’s never met him and Ezrah won’t meet his grandpa. I will make sure that when he is old enough he knows everything about him and how special he was.

Hull City were relegated from the Premier League in 2016/2017 and have yet to make a comeback

Hull City were relegated from the Premier League in 2016/2017 and have yet to make a comeback

Hull City finished fifteenth last season, but are now ninth, just outside the play-off spots

Hull City finished fifteenth last season, but are now ninth, just outside the play-off spots

“Ezra saved me. If it wasn’t for him, God knows where I would be. My father had a strange way of organizing things, even though I didn’t think he could. I think Ezrah was definitely a gift from my father.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking Coyle, 28, is the boxer in his family. He suffered a broken nose as a result of an accidental collision with teammate Jacob Greaves before dislocating his eye socket in a match against Ipswich a few weeks later.

The defenseman joked that this is the only time he has received any sympathy from his eldest brother, Tommy, who fought professionally.

The Coyles are the most successful sporting family to come out of Hull. Lewie’s second-oldest brother Joe is a professional golf coach and the youngest, 18-year-old Rocco, signed a professional contract with the Tigers in December.

“What Rocco has accomplished during a truly traumatic time speaks volumes about the person he is,” Coyle said. “I’m incredibly proud of him and I’m thrilled to be a part of his journey.”

Coyle may have been born and raised in Hull, but the right-back started out at Yorkshire rivals Leeds, where he was involved in an alleged tapping scandal at the age of 10.

“I was called ‘the kitchen boy’ because there were rumors that my family were offered a new house with a brand new kitchen so I could go to Chelsea,” laughs Coyle.

‘The academy manager who worked at Leeds moved to Chelsea and approached my father. My father politely made the decision for me. There was also interest from Barcelona.

Coyle's father – a former champion coachbuilder who later became a legendary market trader in Hull – died in June 2022 aged 59

Coyle’s father – a former champion coachbuilder who later became a legendary market trader in Hull – died in June 2022 aged 59

‘I don’t know how that came about, but it was a nice label to have at that age. Maybe they noticed my long hair, maybe I looked Spanish a few times!’

Coyle, who joined the Tigers in 2020, is one of several first-team players to have grown up in Hull, alongside youth players Greaves, Matty Jacob and Stan Ashbee – son of the club’s former captain Ian.

“The people of Hull are fantastic,” says Coyle. ‘They support their own country and they support their own country. It’s hard sometimes, but we are a hardworking city. I think the supporters can identify with us.’

Coyle came in and out of the team when Liam Rosenior took over, but he has not been dropped after signing a new long-term contract last summer.

“I feel like I’m playing the best stuff of my career so far, that comes with age and experience and I owe a lot to the gaffer. I have now learned more than ever.’

Coyle was 12 when Dean Windass sent the Tigers to the Premier League in the 2008 play-off final. Sixteen years later, the chance to replicate that feat is a real possibility.

It wasn't just football that helped Coyle through his grief, but also the birth of son Ezrah

It wasn’t just football that helped Coyle through his grief, but also the birth of son Ezrah

'I have never missed a day of training in my time due to the loss of my father.  He wouldn't have it any other way,” Coyle said

‘I have never missed a day of training in my time due to the loss of my father. He wouldn’t have it any other way,” Coyle said

‘You get to certain stages in your career and think: ‘Is it really going to happen? Maybe it’s too late.” It would be a dream come true.”

Much was made of the Tigers’ January transfer window, which saw the arrival of seven players, including Premier League loan signings Fabio Carvalho, Ryan Giles and Anass Zaroury.

“Some of the talent the club has brought in is excellent,” Coyle said. ‘It is a special group. There is so much personality in this team and I think that will go a long way.

‘We have everything we need to do something special. I want to be part of history and be the captain to bring this club back to the Premier League.”