Collins started the majority of games for Wolves when he signed from Burnley in the summer, but his game time dried up as the club battled relegation.
The reason for the Irish defender's drop in game time occurred because former Spanish manager Julen Lopetegui and former West Ham defender Craig Dawson both arrived at the relegation-threatened club. Collins only featured in seven of Wolves’ remaining 23 games as Wolves managed to escape relegation to the Championship.
A year on from Collins' wonder goal against Ukraine, the Lexlip native sat down with reporters in Ireland's training camp in Turkey to explain what had happened at Wolves during the latter stages of the season.
Collins explained that Lopetegui wanted to utilize Dawson's experience as the club tried to steer itself away from the relegation places.
“It is obviously tough to take, but it is obviously the gaffer’s decision. My job was to train harder, work harder, and get myself back into the team. As a person, who I am, I will never give up. I will keep working, I fought as hard as I could," said the 22-year-old to reporters in Ireland's training camp on Monday.
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“The first half of the season was tough for everybody. As a team, I don’t think we played to our best. When Lopetegui came in, I thought I was playing really well, and at Christmas we got a few good results, but he just wanted a chance. There was nothing I could do, so no, I wasn’t overly critical [of myself].
“It was obviously a frustrating time, and I did look at what I could be doing better, but I had good people behind me, good backing, and they were honest with me, saying I was just unfortunate, so there was nothing more I could do really."
Despite losing his place to Dawson, Collins also admitted that the club's safety had to come before his own personal ego. Wolves would eventually go on to finish 13th in the league, and with that, Lopetegui's choices were vindicated.
“I wasn’t really looking at it like I need to prove myself. I was being more of a team player," added Collins. "I didn’t want to make it a competitive thing because of the position we were in, I didn’t want another relegation, I didn’t want to go down again, so I just said I’d bite the bullet and be a team player. Get on with it.”
“He came in at a tough time; we were bottom of the league, so I don’t think he could get his full ways across to the team,” says Collins about his manager. “Going back into preseason, it will be interesting to see what way he wants to play. I think he will develop the team more. He’s a good guy, hardworking, honest, and a good man. He’s Spanish; they are hard to read sometimes, they don’t give off a lot. But since he has come in, he has helped the team. Look, he kept us up, we avoided relegation.”
Ireland's game against Greece will kick off at 7.45pm on Friday.
Republic of Ireland Squad - Greece & Gibraltar:
Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu (Southampton), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth)
Defenders: Matt Doherty (Atlético Madrid), Mark Sykes (Bristol City), Callum O'Dowda (Cardiff City), James McClean (Wigan Athletic), Nathan Collins (Wolverhampton Wanderers), John Egan (Sheffield United), Dara O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Darragh Lenihan (Middlesbrough), Liam Scales (Celtic)
Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Burnley), Jayson Molumby (West Bromwich Albion), Jeff Hendrick (Reading), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Will Smallbone (Southampton), Jason Knight (Derby County), Jamie McGrath (Wigan Athletic), Jack Taylor (Peterborough United)
Forwards: Adam Idah (Norwich City), Michael Obafemi (Burnley), Evan Ferguson (Brighton and Hove Albion), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), Mikey Johnston (Vitória de Guimarães, on loan from Celtic)
UEFA EURO 2024 - Fixtures:
16/06 - Greece v Ireland, OPAP Arena, 7.45 pm (21.45 pm local time)
19/06 - Ireland v Gibraltar, Aviva Stadium, 7.45 pm