Jermaine Jenas has admitted that he regrets not playing more games for his boyhood club, Nottingham Forest.
Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, the former Spurs and England midfielder admitted he didn’t want to leave the City Ground at the time of his departure, and although he returned in 2012, he only played in six more matches under Sean O’Driscoll.
The 35-year-old departed Forest in 2002 despite being captain of the club, and he told Nottinghamshire Live of his regret at ending his dream early:
“When I first left I was a youngster and I didn’t even want to leave weirdly enough. I was 18, I’d been made captain of the team, I’d just bought my first flat and it was just over the road from the stadium.
“I used to wake up every Saturday watching the fans walking to the stadium, going into the Trent End and I’d be thinking ‘I’m just about to go and play there’.
“It was a dream. It was what I’d always wanted to do, to go and play for my club.”
Jenas made a total of just 34 appearances for the club he supports, scoring five goals, and considering he was so young when he broke through he never showed the club the best of what he had to offer.
His revelation could be a message to young players across the EFL that leaving is not always the best option, including players like Matty Cash and Joe Worrall at Forest who have impressed after coming through the academy.
It is an interesting acknowledgement from Jenas given that he enjoyed his time at Newcastle, the club he left for, and played for a legendary manager in Bobby Robson who helped improve his game and enabled him to get into the England squad.
The young members of Forest’s squad who came through the youth set-up, which also includes Ryan Yates, should heed the warning from Jenas, and enjoy every minute they spend on the pitch, rather than look elsewhere.