Neil Sullivan said it was “fantastic” to put the Wimbledon shirt on again – and he has refused to rule out another return to the Dons.
With Neil’s club Doncaster Rovers deciding to exercise their call-back option on his Wimbledon loan, the 43-year-old has now gone back to Yorkshire after making 19 appearances for the Dons during 2012/13.
Shortly after he completed the formalities of his Doncaster return, the official website spoke to Neil about his second spell at Wimbledon, which started at home to Aldershot on 17 November when he was given a warm reception by the home faithful. It was a rapport that stemmed from the old Wimbledon days when Morden-raised Neil played for his local club for 12 years – and he earned a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League at his peak.
Here’s our Q & A with a true Wimbledon hero:
With your departure having happened so quickly, is it sad to leave Wimbledon in such circumstances?
It would have been nice to have stayed until the end of this season and celebrate helping the club stay up. I have enjoyed working with the manager, the staff, and they are a great bunch of lads in the playing squad. Unfortunately, it was part of the loan deal that I could go back at any time so it was always a possibility.
From the first cross that you gathered against Aldershot, you were greeted as a hero by the fans. What did it mean to you to be back at Wimbledon again?
Wimbledon is my club as I was brought up locally and I joined when I was 16. I left when I was 29 and I did a lot of growing up during that time. To be given a chance to come back and play for Wimbledon was brilliant. The fans have been great with me again. I think the club will be fine this season and will have a bright future. I have worked with a lot of managers during my career and this is Neal Ardley’s first managerial job, but he is doing well. I think he will be a top manager at a top club in the future.
What is your assessment of your second spell at Wimbledon from a personal point of view?
It took a bit of time for me to get back into playing regularly, but I have enjoyed playing every week and I am thankful to Neal for having me back. He wanted me to bring experience and to share an opinion and I feel that I have done everything asked of me. We have progressed since the turn of the year and the performances have been a lot better.
Neal Ardley said that you were one of the best goalkeepers in League 2 even at the age of 43. Was it satisfying to play so many games to prove you could still do a job?
I was doing a lot of travelling up to Harrogate to spend time with my family and Neal was appreciative of that. I think I coped with it well. With age comes experience and you know what your body needs in terms of the preparation that you have to do for a game. In that respect I was fine. I played a lot of games and though I picked up a niggling thigh injury during the last three or four weeks, I was finishing games strongly.
What was the highlight of your second spell at Wimbledon and can the club stay up this season?
There were a lot of highlights, but I would have to say the first game against Aldershot. It was my first game back, the fans were great, and I enjoyed seeing familiar faces. It was fantastic to put the Wimbledon shirt back on. It is a shame that we could not get better results. We had draws that we should have turned into wins and that was frustrating. I think the squad has enough to stay up though. It is so tight down there and we have big games coming up. If we can put a few good results together then we can climb that table.
Would there be a possibility of you returning to Wimbledon again?
I cannot do that this season, but you never know what can happen in the future. I did not think that I would come back to play for Wimbledon again. Anything can happen and I would definitely not say ‘no’. It is a club on the up. Wimbledon came back through the leagues so quickly and it is a well-run club. There are a lot people working behind the scenes who have good intentions.
Do you have a message for Neil Sullivan? If so, then please e-mail them onto us by clicking on Wimbledon favourite . We will then endeavour to publish a selection on the official website and send them onto Neil.