CHRIS Kirkland has revealed just how close he came to re-joining Wigan Athletic before signing for local rivals Preston.
The 34-year-old trained with Latics last week and was on the verge of putting pen to paper, only for the deal to collapse at the last minute.
Latics have since swooped for ex-Bolton stopper Jussi Jaaskelainen on a one-year deal, with Kirkland agreeing a similar deal with North End.
But Kirkland, speaking at a press conference at Preston’s Springfield training ground, admits he couldn’t have come any closer to returning to the DW Stadium.
“Wigan came in last minute for me,” said Kirkland, who played 134 times for Latics between 2006-12. “But that deal collapsed on the day I was going to sign.
“It was a done deal. At the last minute they tried to change the deal as I was about to sign. It got a little bit messy.
“In the end, I shook their hand and walked away. It’s football, it happens.
“I’m old enough to understand it now. If I was a bit younger it would be hard to take, but it’s just what goes on in football.
“That’s gone now, hopefully they’ll regret it. It’s all about Preston now and helping this club.
“I couldn’t be more happy.”
Kirkland, who has spent the last three years at Sheffield Wednesday, was determined to secure a move close to his Ormskirk home.
And he admits the last few weeks have been stressful as he sorted out his future.
“It was for my wife!” added Kirkland. “But that’s football, I’m old enough to know how it works now.
“I made the decision to try and stay local to the north west, which obviously limits most things.
“I knew it was going to be tough, but I always backed my ability.
“I’ve been in the game long enough, and I think teams are always looking for experience.
“I’m 34 now, and I still feel I’ve got five, six years left if I look after myself well.
“Everyone documents what’s happened in the past, but that’s gone now.
“Over the last three years I think I had the best fitness record at Sheffield.
“I know what my body needs, I’m experienced enough.
“This is a new chapter, I’m delighted the club chose me to come here and anything I can do would be great.”