Bolton Wanderers midfielder Kieran Lee has claimed he loved being back at Hillsborough on Saturday despite the Trotters’ 1-0 loss to his former club Sheffield Wednesday.
Lee spent eight years with the Yorkshire club, amassing more than 200 appearances, but left in the summer of 2020 to join Bolton on a free transfer.
He’s since become an integral figure in Ian Evatt’s squad – helping them win promotion from League Two last season and compete at the business end of League One this term.
The 33-year-old was back playing at Hillsborough for the first time since his exit on the weekend but his side came away with nothing as Lee Gregory’s 66th-minute goal proved decisive.
Even so, the midfielder told the Sheffield Star that despite the result going against them it was special to be back at a ground that was his home for so long.
“The reception was obviously brilliant,” Lee explained. “I’ve enjoyed being back but obviously, at the end of it, I’m gutted because we came here to get the win really.”
He added: “It was nice being able to come back and say goodbye to the fans.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone. I’ve seen a lot of the kids that I used to see coming here, which was nice for them and for me. I’ve loved coming back it was just a shame about the result.”
“When I was here they appreciated that I’d always come to every game with everything I’ve got. I always had a good relationship with them here anyway so I wouldn’t say I’m surprised.
“It was a nice moment but like I keep saying, it is a shame we lost.”
Bolton and Lee will get their chance for revenge against Wednesday in April when the Owls visit the University of Bolton Stadium in the reverse League One fixture.
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Despite his contributions being somewhat limited in the last few years of his Hillsborough tenure, Lee was a popular figure at the Yorkshire club and it’s no surprise that he was well-received on Saturday.
It’s nice that the long-time servant of the club got his chance to go back to the stadium where he spent the best time of a decade and it was win-win really for Wednesday fans, who got to cheer him on and see their side come away with all three points.
They’ll love to hear how much it meant to Lee to be back in Sheffield and his comments are only likely to make him a more popular figure.
Wednesday fans may not feel quite the same next April when the return fixture could play a vital role in the race for promotion.