FORMER MK Dons hero Izale McLeod knows he’s in for a tough afternoon when he plays his first game in Milton Keynes since leaving the club for more than £1 million five years ago.
McLeod returns to the club where he made his name on Saturday when Portsmouth visit stadium:mk in a much anticipated League 1 clash – and no one is looking forward to it more than the 27 year-old.
It will be McLeod’s first return to the club, where he smashed in an outstanding 54 goals in 126 appearances, since he moved to Charlton in August 2007.
To this day he remains Dons’ all time leading goal-scorer, and netted against Karl Robinson’s men for Barnet in the FA Cup first round last season.
A difficult time at Charlton saw McLeod spend almost more time out on loan than at The Valley, but he went on to resurrect his career at Barnet before leaving on a free transfer and signing for Pompey in the summer.
He comes back to Dons for the first time in good form – with four goals to his name this season – although he’s no stranger to the area as he stills lives and owns his own business in Milton Keynes. And he had Saturday’s clash circled as a red-letter day when the League 1 fixtures were first released in the summer.
But he’s promised there will be no split loyalties come kick-off time, and said he will be going full throttle to down the side where he made his reputation.
‘Going to MK was the making of my career,” said McLeod. “I left Derby as a young pro at 19 and went to Milton Keynes to play regular football.
“I ended up having three great years there, where I came into the spotlight goal-scoring-wise. I have fond memories and had a great period of my career there.
“I played against them last season in the cup and scored, but I haven’t been back there since I left. It’s going to be nice to play. I live in MK, have a lot of friends there, and I know a few of the players.
“I’ve lived there for eight years now and have my business there, so I know people around and about. Everyone says they remember me from those days. It’s a nice place to be.
“Everyone is coming up to me about the game, but hopefully we can get the win. It’s a special game for me but, at the end of the game, I hope it’s a special one for Pompey.
“It’s nice to go back to former clubs and it’s going to be a nice occasion there, and I will have loads of friends at the game. But to top it off we need to get a good result.”
Pompey will be making their first trip to stadium:mk on the back of two good wins against Scunthorpe and Yeovil. But McLeod knows better than most of his team-mates that they will have their work cut out to make it a hat-trick of victories in the space of a week.
He said: “We need to work our socks off to get something out of the game, that’s for sure. The buzz is they are going to have one big go this season.
“Karl Robinson is expecting to have a big push. They’re a good team and have been a good team for the past few years in League 1.
“It’s going to be a tough game. They play football and move the ball really well, so we need to be on our game.”