Jordan Clement says he feels like he never left Tamworth after re-signing for the club on the eve of the new Southern Premier League Central season.
The 22-year-old says leaving the Lambs two seasons ago was a tough decision, but a necessary one to aid his development.
With Tamworth doing so well in the league at the time, chances were limited for Clement – with then in-form attacker Bilal Yafai preferred over him.
After some advice from then teammate Chris Lait, Clement decided he needed to make a move if he was to play regularly.
“I was speaking to Chris at the time, and he told me about his experiences as a young player,” Clement said.
“He told me what I needed was to go into a team where I’m going to play to help me get my name out there. When you play regularly and you’re enjoying your football, you play a lot better.
“Last time I was here the club were in form and were on course to win the league. Andy did say to me that I was still one of the top players in my position in the league, but with Bilal [Yafai] being there, it was tough to budge him.
“It’s tough to take but it’s football and you don’t change a winning team. Bilal deservedly kept his shirt, so I decided, as much as I like playing for Tamworth, that it was my time to go and get some more games at this level.
“It’s a difficult position to be in. Tamworth is where I made my debut and I was enjoying playing for them. I became a fan when I was here last time so you don’t really want to leave that kind of environment.
“But sometimes you have to think about what’s best in the long run. I hate sitting on the bench.
“I could play 41 of the 42 fixtures and I’d be on the bench looking moody because I haven’t played all of the games. I don’t want to be on the bench, I want to be playing.”
Now back where he feels he belongs, Clement is ready to play a big part in a shot at promotion.
After making his second debut against Chesterfield at the weekend, he reckons it’ll only be a matter of time before the Lambs are back where they belong.
“I’m obviously happy to be back here. It feels like I’m just picking up where I left off,” he said.
“Being here before with the managers, it feels like I never left because I know how they work and how they want to play because it got drilled into me last time. It felt good to get back out there for Tamworth against Chesterfield.
“I would be really proud to be part of the team that helps Tamworth get promoted. It’s what the fans want and have wanted for three seasons.
“The club deserves to be higher. To actually get there would be surreal because after the past two seasons, it seems fate doesn’t want us to do it.
“We were on course to win the league and then out of nowhere, something that’s never happened before comes along and ends it. Hopefully now the pandemic is out of the way and we can crack on and have a proper season with no interruptions.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as we’ve probably had it in the past. There’s a lot more clubs with the same ambitions now and the other clubs have got a long stronger.
“We can’t just turn up and think we have the right to win the league because we were close two seasons ago. You can’t say for certain if we will win the league or not. But we know for certain we’re going to be up there challenging for it.”
For Clement, the move back to The Lamb is yet another chance to link up with Gary Smith.
The Lambs’ joint-boss has been a mentor through the midfielder’s career to date – first with Coleshill Town and then Tamworth’s Under-23s side.
Having someone who believes in your ability is what makes playing good football a lot easier, Clement says.
“When you have someone that’s been like a mentor like him it helps so much.
“He doesn’t shy away from telling me the truth and he believes in me. If I need a push, he keeps me going and keeps my confident up – that’s all you want.
“When a player is happy, like I have been in the past playing under him, then you’re going to want to stay. Andy’s the same with his tactics and everything he brings; they work well together.”