New signing Peter Clarke insists he’s a better player than when he left Blackpool eight years ago.
The 32-year-old defender enjoyed two hugely successful seasons at Bloomfield Road (2004-06) before going on to make over 300 League appearances with Southend and Huddersfield Town.
When The Gazette first reported the centre-half’s impending return last week, some fans questioned the deal.
But Clarke, who signed a one-year contract on Monday, can’t wait to set about silencing the critics who say he is past his best.
He said: “I’m sure there will be one or two eyebrows raised at me coming here, but I’m thick-skinned and have broad shoulders.
“I’m coming back with a point to prove to any doubters.
“I left Huddersfield at the end of last season and I want to prove a point to them too (he was released after five years with the Terriers).
“I want to show people I’m not past it. I’m a more experienced player now and I feel I’m a better player.
“I’d like to think I’m a better version of the Peter Clarke which left here eight years ago.”
The last of three signings completed on Monday, Clarke became only the 11th member of Jose Riga’s depleted squad.
The although the season is only 10 days away, Clarke says he didn’t think twice about joining Pool’s undermanned squad.
He added: “Blackpool is a club which is very close to my heart. As as young player I was given an opportunity to play first-team football here on loan from Everton.
“I then had two good years here, although the team maybe didn’t do the best it’s ever done. It doesn’t seem that long ago but the eight years have flown by. It’s nice to be back and I’m really excited.
“I want to be a part of something special here, although we know it isn’t going to be the easiest of starts or of tasks.
“But from what I’ve seen of the manager over the past few days, he is superb and is trying to instil a way of playing and a belief in ourselves that the fans will enjoy.”
When Clarke left for Southend in 2006, they had just won promotion to the Championship, a level above the Seasiders. Little did he know how the fortunes of the two clubs would change.
While the Shrimpers went straight back down the following season, the Seasiders were promoted and dramatically reached the Premier League in 2010.
And Clarke says Pool’s rise delighted him. “I was thrilled to watch Blackpool have their success after I left,” he said.
“I have friends in the town and friends who go to every game, so I was over the moon. Blackpool’s has always been the first result I look out for.
“I said when I left I had unfinished business, and to be given the opportunity to pull on a tangerine shirt again is fantastic.
“I left with a heavy heart, and if I’d had a crystal ball I’d never have wanted to leave. But I’ve grown as a person since and as a player.”