Tonge joined Stoke from Sheffield united for £2m in 2008 and went on to stick around for five years, though much of that was spent out on loan across no fewer than five loan spells.
He only made 12 league appearances during his five years in Staffordshire, but despite his lack of involvement, he was handed a second contract by then manager Tony Pulis.
The midfielder’s willingness to stick around despite a lack of game time might have angered some Stoke fans, but Tonge has addressed the situation, seven years after he did eventually leave for good, joining Leeds United.
“Supporters looking from the outside, and I can imagine a lot of Stoke fans were probably looking thinking ‘he is sitting on his contract there, he doesn’t want to go out and play, he is happy not doing anything’.
“It couldn’t have been more further from the truth. I wanted to go out and play, but what you find in football, and you will know, is that when you get to a situation where you haven’t played for a bit, people won’t sign you.
“And because I had gone to Stoke – I wasn’t on like outlandish money where nobody could afford to take me – but if a Championship team was going to take me, it would be quite a big risk for them to commit to a contract to sign me.
“And for Stoke, it wasn’t as if it was breaking their bank for me to stay.
“So, I was just being caught all the time.”
Tonge wasn’t alone watching from the sidelines, though. He added: “I wasn’t on my own in that situation.
“There was Pughy (Danny Pugh) – he played a bit more than me. Tom Soares, he was similar.
“But there was other lads as well, four or five lads who were on the periphery of it but couldn’t get out to leave.”