Leon Clarke today expressed the hope that Wolves fans will judge him on his perfomances as he set about the task of helping the team win promotion from Sky Bet League One.
The division’s top scorer with 15 league goals from 23 appearances has joined Wolves from Coventry for his second spell at Molineux, having previously joined his home town Academy at the age of eight before leaving for Sheffield Wednesday at 21.
Having made his Wolves debut at 18, there were some ups and downs with the club’s supporters notably when responding to criticism with a ‘shush’ gesture in front of the South Bank after finding the net.
But Clarke says he is now a completely different person, having learned much from his formative years as he heads back to the club where he made his footballing breakthrough.
“I was eight when I was first picked up by the Academy,” Clarke recalls.
“I was on trial for maybe six months and then I signed after that and stayed at the club until just before my 22nd birthday.
“I’ve got really good memories of those times.
“I scored a lot of goals from the Academy and remember training with the first team a lot before I got my chance.
“I did manage to get some goals for the first team but wasn’t maybe as prolific as I could have been and have been over the last couple of years.
“At the time there was also a lot of immaturity from me.
“You learn from things like that, take them on board and try and be a better person.
“You look at the way you go about things and try and do them differently and be professional.
“At the time with me there was a lot of immaturity but I’m a completely different person nine years later and more experienced.
“I know how any player at Wolves is judged and that is on hard work.
“If you’re not working hard enough for the team then it’s right that you get dug out.
“And as a striker you need to score a lot of goals and hopefully when I get the opportunity I am going to be able to do that and make sure I hit the ground running.”
As well as his personality Clarke also believes his style of play has changed over the years as he has become experienced, and his strike-rate in recent seasons has been hugely impressive.
As his career comes full circle, he is firmly focused on re-laying some roots back at Molineux and playing a part in some long-term success.
“As you get older you get more know-how and you do things differently and pick different things up,” he explains.
“I have played a lot of games now and feel like I have progressed.
“Having been here for so long when I was younger it feels right to be back again.
“Hopefully the team is going to continue to progress this season and do well.
“If I can make a contribution then hopefully I can be part of some success for a few years to come – you never know what could happen.
“I still feel I can score goals and at a higher level as well.
“But for now we’ve all just got to worry about this season and if we get to where we want to be look to progress next year.”