Eirik Bakke has no regrets that Aston Villa failed to sign him on a permanent basis - especially now that Leeds United could provide him with a return to the Premiership.
Bakke, the Norway international midfield player, spent 3 1/2 months on loan with Villa and played 14 matches for the club from the beginning of October to the middle of January.
Villa manager David O'Leary was hoping to keep Bakke at Villa Park but financial constraints meant that the player returned to Elland Road. It may turn out as a blessing in disguise for Bakke.
"At the time I went to Villa it was good to get a change," Bakke said. "I felt I needed something new and the club did well financially from the move. I had a good time with Villa and made lots of friends there but Leeds is where I have been for seven years and I love playing here. This is where I want to achieve things."
From the Uefa Champions League to the Coca-Cola Championship; from Milan to Millmoor - Eirik Bakke has lived through Leeds' spectacular decline.
In 1999, the Norwegian joined O'Leary's up-and-coming young Leeds team, tipped to bring the glory days back to Elland Road.
Now, the 28-year-old is the only player signed by the Irishman still at the club and Leeds are the Premiership's forgotten team. But seven years of unfulfilled potential have not broken Bakke's resolve and, with the playoffs approaching, he has only one thing on his mind.
"We have to look forward and get back into the Premier League .
What happened in the past doesn't matter," said Bakke, who played in the Leeds team which lost a Champions League semi-final to Valencia just five years ago.
"We must try to build something now and move into a new era. This club deserves Premiership football and so does the town. It is a big club."
Since Ken Bates' takeover of the club stopped the financial rot and manager Kevin Blackwell revitalised the team, Leeds are on the verge of being back where Bakke feels they belong.
"There is so much that has gone on here in the last two years," said the play-maker. "Every time you pick up the papers, Leeds are in it and for a while we were on the front pages as well as the back because of our financial problems.
"But now the chairman has done a good job, he has backed the manager with players and we are on the back pages again." n Aston Villa last night put the finishing touches to a pre-season tour of Germany and Holland. O'Leary's men face three games over a seven-day period in early August in Germany and Holland.
The tour kicks-off with a game against Hannover (August 5). Villa then face NEC Nijmegen (August 8) and FC Groningen (August 11).
Villa will be based at a top-class facility used by the Dutch national team and a host of top European sides - the impressive Doorwerth complex, near Arnhem. In addition to the Dutch national team, clubs like Ajax and PSV Eindhoven and Galatasaray have also used the facilities as a training base in recent seasons.
O'Leary believes the tour will help his players hit the ground running at the start of next season.
"What I'm looking for is to extend the players' fitness," he said. "The matches themselves are an extension of training and some of those Swedish games have been almost like a day off.
"I want to try to get them into matches that test them. I'm not talking about going into matches to get beaten, but if we can get teams that are ahead of us in fitness, they can push us. That's where we'll change it.
"It's not about results. Pre-season is about six weeks of getting sorted and getting that result at the end."