Stephen Hunt today revealed his disappointment that his Wolves career came to an end with relegation from the npower Championship – but hopes he leaves on good terms with fans after his three years at Molineux.
Having joined from Hull in the summer of 2010, the Republic of Ireland winger made 66 appearances and scored eight goals, one of which against Blackburn at the end of his first season was billed as the strike which helped Wolves avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
Wolves announced recently that none of their out of contract players would be offered new deals when they expire at the end of June amid plans for a summer overhaul of the squad.
Hunt, 31, who has already been the subject of interest from at home and abroad, admits things could have been different had Wolves maintained their Championship status.
And he has also suggested that he wouldn't rule out perhaps one day returning to Molineux, in either a coaching or managerial capacity.
“To leave Wolves with the club having been relegated is very disappointing,” he said.
“There have been a lot of down times during my three years at Wolves but I can say I did love playing for the club.
“I have had my fair share of injuries over the three years which is a big cause of regret but when I have played I have enjoyed it.
“I wasn’t really looking to move anywhere else and my family had settled and had we stayed up I might well have been still here next season.
“There were plans to perhaps sit down and talk about a new contract but when you are relegated then things change and people move on and I think there will be big changes in the squad over the summer.
“I do plan to do my coaching badges and hopefully become a manager when I finish playing.
“Maybe one day I can come back to Wolves in another capacity – it may be a fair way off but I wouldn’t rule it out!
“Stranger things have happened and I did love my time here and we were all very settled.
“That’s for further down the line as I still feel I’ve got a good three or four years left playing hopefully.
“For now I am just moving on to my next challenge and seeing where it takes me.
“I’ve had an offer from a club in Germany, two or three offers from Championship clubs and a couple of sniffs from Premier League clubs as well.
“So I’m going to sit tight for two or three weeks and gauge what is best before deciding on a next move which is a very important one given the age I am at.”
Never one to be shy in voicing opinions, Hunt angered a few supporters after criticising what he viewed as sarcastic chanting shortly after he returned to the fray following injury against Watford in early March.
Then booed by a section of fans after coming off the bench in the following home game against Bristol City, he was cheered off at full time having set up both Wolves goals in what at the time was hoped to be a crucial victory.
Having enjoyed a good relationship with supporters up until that point, Hunt is hopeful he left on good terms after an impressive individual end to the season despite Wolves’ relegation.
He added: “I am always true to myself in what I say and how I feel and I know it was a risk to say what I did with 10 to 12 games of the season left.
“I know the fans weren’t happy with what I said but I responded in the way I wanted and I think the fans came around to enjoying watching me play.
“I think I needed to say what I did to give me a kick up the backside as well.
“I was just coming back from injury and still had a few doubts in my own head whether I was completely fit and needed to drive myself on.
“To say what I said probably helped me and meant I could go out there and play without thinking too much apart from just wanting to prove to people what I could still do.
“So in a way it probably helped me as well to get over the injury that I had.
“But the bigger picture is the disappointment to be leaving after relegation.”
Despite the difficulties and in particular the injuries suffered by Hunt during his time at Molineux, there were plenty of happier memories, including a man-of-the-match display against local rivals West Bromwich Albion not to mention THAT goal against Blackburn.
“The West Brom game is one in which, from a personal point of view, I don’t think I’ve played too much better in a game,” he said.
“That one stands out for me.
“Then there was the goal against Blackburn obviously which I think changed the course of the last few minutes of Birmingham’s game and so helped us stay up.
“I like to think I’m a player who can be counted on to a certain degree and who can come up with something when it is needed and that goal is a very good memory of my time at Wolves which I am proud of.
“I was very grateful to Mick McCarthy for signing me when I was injured which was a bit of a gamble but hopefully that goal helped repay that faith to a certain degree.”
As Hunt now looks to find a new Club ahead of next season, there is little doubt he will continue to check on the fortunes of Wolves, and is hoping for a more positive campaign at Molineux next time out.
With discussions around the appointment of a Head Coach continuing, Hunt believes a fresh approach will help the team recover from recent disappointments.
“I imagine there will be a clearout of players,” he says.
“I think a few players have become stale and would need a new challenge elsewhere and the club will also have to adapt to being in League One.
“When you do get relegated generally a lot of players leave and the club rebuilds although last year there was only really three or four who left Wolves.
“It’s probably the right time to rebuild the team although making sure there is the right blend of experience and young players because you can’t just go in with young players alone.
“Whatever happens in terms of player movement there will still be a good nucleus there from which the club can start again with new signings as well.
“The next appointment is going to be crucial in terms of getting the right man in to do the rebuilding job.
“It’s a case of getting the right man in and then sticking with him through the bad times and the good times and not panicking.
“Sometimes you need to come through the bad experiences like Wolves have had to then start again and rebuild to bring back the good times.”