James Penrice desperate to help Livingston punch above their weight

James Penrice desperate to help Livingston punch above their weight

JAMES Penrice turned to boxing when his career threatened to be counted out as a youngster.

Now, he is desperate to keep helping Livingston punch above their weight.

Following a past loan spell at Almondvale, Penrice rejoined the Lions in the summer after six years with Partick Thistle.

The Jags handed the versatile complete-back a lifeline after he had been freed by Hibs in 2015.

The 23-year-old will be forever grateful to mum Theresa for helping him stay focused on his goal of being a specialized footballer – just when he thought his dreams had been dashed.

And he is determined to ensure he continues making the most of the chance Livingston have given him this season in the Premiership.

He said: “Being released by Hibs gave me a wee wake-up call and was probably the best thing that happened to me.

“It kind of showed that the effort I was putting in wasn’t enough to go anywhere in the game.

“If I’m being totally honest, I probably thought that was me done as a footballer. A lot of boys think that when they get released by clubs, that the dream is over.

“I was nevertheless young but I wasn’t focused on being a football player. I would just eat what I wanted and things like that.

“But when I got a wee bit older I started to put a bit of weight on and my family around me weeded that out of me.

“And then I started to realise myself that I needed to start taking care of myself.

“My mum was a personal trainer and is now a firefighter so she is heavily into stuff like boxing.

“But I’ve not really got any time for that now. I couldn’t throw a punch, already back then.

“But the good thing for me at the time was I was quickly back in the game at Thistle that summer, and I’ve not really looked back since.

“There’s a lot of boys who get released and they think that’s them done. But if you want to make it in the game you have to have that bit of desire.

“So, when you come down, you have to come back up already stronger.”

Penrice admits he has been surprised to make as many as 20 appearances so far for Livingston, starting 12 of their 20 league games.

The Lions begin again their season against Dundee on Tuesday sitting in eighth in the table and the Livingston-born player is relishing life with his hometown team.

He additional: “I really enjoyed my first spell here at Livingston and I always wanted to come back. I live five minutes away, it’s close to my family and it made total sense.

“I was probably in my comfort zone at Partick, but my game has come on a lot since I came here to Livingston.

“I didn’t expect to play as much as I have, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and long may it continue.

“You just know you need to give your all and make it as difficult as possible for opponents every week, and hopefully we can continue doing that.”

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