Tony Pulis goes up against Stoke City again tomorrow – just over 12 months since he was among the favourites to become the club’s manager again.
Pulis had two spells at Stoke that covered the best part of a decade, brought back by Peter Coates to end a long exile from the top flight and take the club to Wembley in the FA Cup.
Now at Sheffield Wednesday and preparing to take on Michael O’Neill, he has been asked this morning if he could have gone back for a third time.
“My 10 years at Stoke was extraordinary,” he said in his press conference, covered by YorkshireLive.
“It would have been difficult for me to go back. I achieved everything I wanted to achieve there.
“We got to a cup final and spend so much time in the Premier League.
“The first three years at the Britannia in the Premier League was extraordinary.
“I have stayed friends with most of the players who were fantastic all the way through. It was a wonderful period in my life.”
Pulis knows a return to Stoke wouldn’t have necessarily gone down well with everyone in the Potteries – but he hopes that “most fans” appreciated his work.
And he leaves little doubt about the esteem in which he holds the Coates family and Peter Coates in particular
He said: “It has been a tough time for them in the last few years. It’s a fabulous club. I have got so many great memories of what happened here.
“I was very privileged to work for the Coates family. They are wonderful people.
“They have been very successful in the business they set up and their love for the club is there for everybody to see.
“The supporters were absolutely wonderful to me when I was there. The majority of them appreciated me.”
He added: “Peter Coates is a wonderful man. The Coates’ family have invested millions of money in the club.
“They back all their managers. To their credit, they have given that manager his opportunity to bring in his own players.
“It’s a wonderful club and I have got so many friends around the place. We had a great time on and off the pitch. It was fabulous.”