New Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Steve Sidwell feels he has unfinished business at the club, after agreeing a loan move from Stoke City until the end of the season.
Sidwell had a two-month loan spell in the 2002/03 season from Arsenal, and admits the lure of returning was too much to resist.
He said, “The chapter here never really closed for me. I remember the time I was here before like it was yesterday.
“It’s a fantastic club even though I was only here for a brief spell and when Reading put the bid in [he joined the Royals on a permanent deal], I did want to stay, but that never materialised.
“Coming back now, I can see it’s a different place. The Withdean and the university where we trained is far away from this fantastic training ground and stadium, so I can’t wait to get out there.”
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The 33-year-old has been welcomed by a number of familiar faces, including his former Fulham team-mates, Bobby Zamora, Liam Rosenior and David Stockdale.
Sidwell is looking forward to linking up with Zamora again and cannot wait to use the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre on a regular basis.
“Bobby and I are really close friends and have followed each other’s careers. When he came back here, he had some great things to say about the club.
“I came here to the training ground last year because my son was playing for the Fulham academy and as I drove through the gates, it blew me away. It will be nice to team up with Bob again and get the ball rolling.”
Sidwell is now relishing the prospect of linking up with the superb Albion fans, who he hails for their incredible backing during his first spell at the club.
“That’s what blew me away when I came here on loan from Arsenal. I didn’t play a first-team game there and played reserve team games at Barnet in front of around 200 people.
“There weren’t many at Withdean, but I remember the number of people that went to games got the hairs standing on the back of my neck.
“There were games that stuck out; I remember Nottingham Forest away in a game we lost 3-2, but the noise behind the goal was amazing and I remember going back on the coach thinking that the fans were unbelievable.
“Now they’ve got a great stadium that they fill week-in, week-out. I went to the Huddersfield game and they made the same noise again. When you’ve got that kind of backing, it sucks the ball into the back of the net.
“I just can’t wait to get a jersey on and play in front of the fans.”
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