Blackburn Rovers midfielder Stewart Downing has admitted that he had offers to move elsewhere this summer, and that he thought at one point his chances of a return to Ewood Park were over.
It was announced on Monday that Rovers had re-signed Downing for the coming campaign, with the 36-year-old having initially left the club following the expiration of his contract at the end of last season, despite the fact a new deal had been offered to him.
Now however, Downing is back with the Lancashire club for the remainder of the campaign, although it seems he did have options to continue playing elsewhere, although a new deal with Blackburn was always his first choice.
Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph about his return to the club, and the possibility of a move elsewhere, Downing said: “I did speak to other managers but I did make it clear that if Blackburn was an option then I wanted to come back because of how settled I was, I’ve got a young family and I didn’t want to be moving around the country, I’ve not got long left.
“I’m glad it’s happened and I get on with my football and see where it takes us.”
Indeed, with Blackburn ending the transfer window in busy fashion, making no fewer than four signings on deadline day, Downing admits he thought his own chances of a new at Ewood were over, as he revealed: “I had other offers and spoke to other people because I thought at one point it might be dead in the water and I didn’t think it was going to happen.
“I looked at the final day of the transfer window and I thought maybe that was the budget gone.”
Downing did not feature for Rovers in their goalless draw with his former club Middlesbrough the day after his return to Ewood was confirmed, and with the former England international still working back up to match fitness, it could be the other side of the international break before we see him in a Blackburn shirt again.
This does feel like a big compliment to both parties.
For Blackburn, the fact that Downing was so keen to return to the club despite other offers, feels like a sign of just how much he enjoyed last season at the club, and how high his expectations are for Tony Mowbray’s side this season.
The fact that at his age Downing was still receiving offers also highlights just how impressive he was last season for Blackburn, despite the fact he is entering the latter stages of his career.
It seems therefore, that bringing the midfielder back to Ewood Park will be a big boost for Rovers, both with his ability, and the insight and experience he will be able to bring to what is still a relatively young squad.