Michael Kightly wants to roll back the years and play for Wolves again with his former team-mates – well, a golden oldies version anyway!
As one of four debutants with Kevin Foley, Karl Henry and 52-year-old Matt Forman, the recently-retired 33-year-old was the youngest player on view for Wolves All Stars on Sunday.
Their appearances attracted a crowd of around 500 as the winger made a scoring bow from the spot in a 7-2 win over JJX Logistics at Wednesfield FC in a game that raised over £2,500 for Breast Cancer Now.
Kightly and his old pals were reunited on the pitch for the first time since he left for Stoke in a £3m move in 2012, after nearly six years at Molineux which included the Championship title in 2008-09 and three seasons in the Premier League.
And it reignited the bug to want to join his Molineux mates again after he announced his decision to hang up his boots in August following a two-year spell at Southend in League One.
“I said to the boys we should get a little team going and play in a vets league because it’s nice to meet up again having played together all those years ago,” Kightly told www.wolvesbite.com
“It was good to see a few of the team-mates I played with and it was for a good cause.
“It’s good to reminisce – I think I dropped back in for ‘Foles’ a couple of times and I said to him I don’t think I did that too many times when I was playing in the Championship and in the Premier League!
“They’re a good set of lads and we had a good team at that time. It would be nice if we could get a few more of the boys and get a few more following us.
“It was good. I haven’t kicked a ball or done any running for a while, but I still enjoyed it.
“I scored and probably should have had another couple of goals! It was one of those where you don’t want to try too hard because it’s for charity but you want to play some nice bits of football to entertain the fans, so it was good.”
Chairman Jason Guy worked his persuasive powers to conjure the strongest squad ever assembled for an All Stars game in honour of his late wife Lucy, who tragically died of breast cancer at the age of 33.
Kightly is happy to continue to try to roll back the years and turn out for them in future, commitments permitting.
“Yes, I will do, if I’m available. I enjoyed it so I’m fairly local, in Lichfield, so if I can, I’ll definitely play,” he said.
“I’ll try to keep myself fit if I can because I think I’ll be stiff for a few days!”
As for returning to the professional game, Kightly is happy to have called time on his career.
The Basildon-born wide man, who still had a year left on his contract at Roots Hall, has no regrets about his decision, which came despite being fully fit and being at a relatively young age to hang up his boots.
“No, I don’t miss playing at the minute. I’ve had a couple of offers to play that didn’t tempt me to be honest,” he said.
“I could probably play – I have been I’m injury-free for a few years, but I’ve just had enough really.
“I have dedicated my life to it for so many years and I’m ready for the next chapter now.
“I think I might miss it in time, but I’m trying to keep myself involved in the game with media work, so I’m enjoying that and not missing playing too much.”
Kightly has several reasons why he called it a day, and when you listen to them, his decision all makes sense.
“I stepped down the leagues, and, no disrespect to Southend, but it is different at that level,” he admitted.
“I see the game differently in my head (to them), and I found that frustrating. Also, my body couldn’t do the things it used to.
“You get young lads who are really strong and quick who might not be able to think like me, but they can move quicker and are stronger, so it becomes frustrating.
“Another reason was my family life. I’ve got two kids and I’ve missed a big part of them growing up so far and I didn’t want miss any more when I’m not enjoying playing.
“My children (seven-year-old daughter Alexa and four-year-old son Leo) mean a lot to me and when I was down in Essex, I’d organise to see them and then all of a sudden, the day off you’ve had planned for weeks gets pulled because you’ve had a bad result and have to go in to train, and then I couldn’t see my children.
“That really affected me and it also affected them, and I just had enough of doing that.
“If I was still enjoying it and still felt as if I was doing myself justice, I would have carried on, but all of those things really that made me think the time is right.
“Any time you retire is going to be hard because football’s all you know, but whenever that comes, it’s going to be a tough period.
“But I feel like I’m OK, I’m enjoying it and I’m not missing it at the minute.”
Thankfully, Kightly has invested wisely and can afford to take time to decide his next step without having the pressure of having to commit to full-time employment at the moment.
“I’ve been fairly fortunate in that I’ve had a half decent career and been fairly sensible financially,” he added. “I didn’t want to carry on playing just for money and I felt like the time was right for me.
“I’m doing a bit of co-commentary, a few podcasts for BBC, Sky, a bit for Wolves TV and Burnley TV which I’m really enjoying.
“I’m enjoying looking at the game differently to how I would have looked at it when I was playing, and it’s keeping my mind active.
“If I’ve got something booked in that I know I’m doing next week then I know I’ve got to research certain teams that I’ve got to talk about.
“I don’t want to doing that every day, but if I can get a couple a week, that would be perfect for me, to fill my time and keep my mind active.”