Wigan Athletic ace James McClean says there was "never any chance" of Bolton Wanderers move
Six years after departing Latics, the midfielder returned this week on a one-year deal and could make his second debut in tomorrow's game at Chalton.
Bolton - who Latics face in the Carabao Cup next Tuesday - were also keen on the 32-year-old.
But he said a move to their fierce rivals was never an option.
"I know Bolton were interested but having been here before as a Wigan player, there was never, ever any chance I was going to entertain that," he said today.
"I'll be completely honest, the only reason I entertained coming to League One was solely for Wigan.
"League One wasn't something that interested me but I said to my agent from day one - when I found out Wigan were interested - I'd rather go to Wigan, a club that means a lot to me, than a club lower in the Championship.
"The Bolton one, for a lot of reasons, wasn't something I was going to take interest in.
"For me, the experience of being here last time... I left Sunderland feeling down in the dumps (in 2013), I was very young at the time and it was a move that had to be right.
"I took a chance dropping down a division to come to Wigan last time but it turned out to be the best move of my career, hands down.
"As a person, as a player, this place, this club - I met some wonderful people, who took to me and my young family. It felt like a home away from home.
"My wife loved it here last time. Wigan fans have always been brilliant with me. I just want to repay that support now, that belief - and I believe I still have a lot in me."
McClean's love for the club was evident last year when he was one of the first stars to leap on board a fundraising drive when Latics were plunged into administration, donating £5,000 to the supporters' club Crowdfunder.
"It was a no-brainer to do that," he said. "It was a club that was struggling and needed help. The way the club treated me was fantastic, the best move of my career, probably my best time as in enjoying football. It was a small way to give something back.
"A lot of the people who were here last time - good people - got laid off by that (administration). So to see it happen was sad, and to see the way the club was going, it was worrying and you were just hoping it would get sorted and thankfully it has."
The Republic of Ireland international – who was named the club’s 2014-15 Player of the Year – helped Latics to the Championship play-offs in his first season and left at the end of the following campaign when they were relegated.
He moved to West Brom and then on to Stoke City, where he also won a Player of the Year award - before his time at the club turned sour.
McClean admits the move to Latics has rekindled his desire after a difficult few months.
"I'm really motivated because in the last five months I've not really played," he said.
"I've got that burning desire. I've found that hunger again because I didn't enjoy it at all last year. When you're younger, you play for the love of the game. And sometimes when you get older, you lose that because you're playing for contracts and there's the pressure, you focus on your performance and you lose sight of why you started in the first place, which is the love of the game.
"I've learned a lot over the last six or seven months, being away from it, I just want to get back to that love of the game. I've found that hunger and desire again, and the way the team is playing, it's a high-intensity, exciting style of play.
"I'm still the same player, you know what you're going to get when I step over the white line - it's 110 per cent, it's 100mph, it's win at all costs. I'm looking forward to bringing that to the team."
And McClean has made no secret of his ambition for Latics this season.
"Promotion, that goes without saying, with the signings the club has made," he added. "I don't think anything else is worth settling for."