Tom Huddlestone is back! And he returns to Derby County with the aim of fulfilling a mission he missed out on during his first spell with the club – to get it to the Premier League.
The Academy graduate is back at Pride Park Stadium after departing 12 years ago for Tottenham Hotspur, where he went on to develop further and become a consistent feature in the top-flight and also become an England international.
Huddlestone was just 18-years-old at that time, but his desire to one day return to the club where his blossoming football career began was never in question.
That day has arrived.
In his first interview back at the club, he told RamsTV: “I left here at a very young age, but even then, I always said that I would want to come back at some stage.
“Thankfully, I am in a position where I can still perform at a high level and it’s good to be back.
“My last game was against Preston in the play-off semi-finals. We lost and it was a disappointing way to finish, but I am back now to try and get the club back to the Premier League.”
Twelve years is a long time in football and Huddlestone, naturally, is a different player to the one that burst on to the scene as a 16-year-old.
Gary Rowett touched on this topic after also speaking to RamsTV about his third signing of the summer – after he followed his fellow former Hull City team-mate Curtis Davies and Liverpool’s Andre Wisdom in joining the club.
The Derby boss spoke of the control Huddlestone will bring to the midfield department, but what else, though, does the man himself think he brings to the table this time around?
“Tactically and physically, I probably feel as good as I have ever felt,” he added.
“I have played a lot of games over the last few years, worked under quite a few managers, so I have picked up a few bits of tactical information that I had never really considered before.
“Hopefully, I can bring my experience. Looking at the squad on paper, there is a very good group of players here – one that should definitely be challenging this year.”
In terms of experience, Huddlestone has amassed nearly 500 career appearances, in which he has been a consistent figure in the Premier League, played in the Champions League and represented his country.
Whilst the midfielder is hoping all of that will be valuable to Rowett over the forthcoming 2017/18 season, he also wants to set an example to the players, who are in the position he used to be in during his first spell with the club, on a day-to-day basis.
He said: “The manager this year appears to be bringing in a bit more experience and I want to add to that.
“Hopefully, I will have the experience and the know-how to get us over the line if we find ourselves in that position.
“It's not just important during that time, but even day-to-day. In training, if you have got the experience and there are younger players in the squad, you have got to lead by example.
“That’s whether you are on the training pitch, in the gym, or doing your recovery sessions after games.
“If everyone can pick up that extra little percent individually, then collectively we will be in great shape.”