His exploits during his first spell have given MK Dons fans a lot to thank Keith Andrews for, but it could have been a completely different story.
The Irish midfielder left stadium:mk in 2008 after captaining the club to the League 2 and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy double, following former manager Paul Ince to Premier League Blackburn Rovers.
Two years earlier though, Andrews had considered quitting football all together, growing disillusioned with the game he called a career.
Leaving Hull and heading for the National Hockey Stadium to play under Martin Allen though restored his faith and love for the game.
“I didn’t really like football when I came here, to be totally honest,” said the 34-year-old. “I’d kind of had enough of it, and contemplated jacking it in at the age of 23,24. But coming into a group of people that I got on with, loved being around the lads and the staff, and I’ve felt that again when I came back.
“The last few months have been hard and I’ve been a bit disillusioned. It can be a very difficult environment to be part of.”
Andrews’ return has hardly been a secret. Spotted training on his own kitted out in Dons training gear, his intentions couldn’t have been much clearer, despite still officially being on loan at Watford from Bolton.
But even though news of the move broke at the beginning of January, his move went through at around 9pm on transfer deadline day.
He could have made life easier for himself too, by signing for the other clubs courting him during the window. His intentions though were always to come back to the place he felt happiest.
“I’m delighted to be back. It wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret! I’ve been around for the last few games.
“It was always going to go down to the wire, and it was all down to Watford. It was a gamble because I’d turned down other clubs in the last few weeks.
“But this was always the place I wanted to be, I made my intentions very clear. If I couldn’t come here, I wasn’t prepared to go anywhere else.
“In the last few years, I’ve been here quite a bit. I’ve kept in touch with people here, and they’re still a team I’ve followed. They’re a club very close to my heart. I’m genuinely over the moon to be here.
“If it hadn’t gone through, I’m not sure what I’d have been doing now. It was a bit of a weird scenario.”
Andrews comes into a side battling at the top of the League 1 table, and ahead of a huge game against Bristol City on Saturday, pitching first against second.
But there is no doubt in his mind who he thinks will win out.
He said: “What I’ve seen out there in the last few weeks, it’s unrivalled to what I’ve seen in the last few years.
“I genuinely believe we’re the best team in the league. Other teams have talented individuals, but when you put all the lads here together, we’re the best in the league.
“I think it’s the best. It still has the flair and technical ability that we like to play, but there’s a bit more steel about it. In previous years, we’ve been too open defensively, but if you look at the clean sheets and the work Richie (Barker) does with the defence, there more of a discipline to the side this year.”