With no football to watch for more than two months now, fans have been left at something of a loose end.

The global pandemic forced football to be shelved back in March, with Preston’s last game coming on March 7th. The Championship may return soon, but Preston have been attempting to fill the void.

They have recently conducted interviews with various Player of the Year award winners from over the years. Fans have been waiting for North End to interview Aiden McGeady, the 2017 winner.

The winger was simply sensational in the 2016-17 season. A deadline day loan signing from Everton, McGeady hit eight goals and nine assists for Preston whilst dazzling fans with his unbelievable skills.

PRESTON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Sunderland’s Aidan McGeady celebrates scoring his side’s equalising goal to make the score 2-2 during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Sunderland at Deepdale on September 30, 2017 in Preston, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

McGeady ended up following Simon Grayson to Sunderland, with Preston missing out on a permanent move. That understandably left Preston fans gutted, and things turned a little sour in September 2017.

The Irishman gave an interview discussing how Sunderland’s team was better than Preston’s on paper, just 24 hours before the two sides were set to meet at Deepdale. His comments were taken rather badly by some North End fans, and he was booed upon his return to Deepdale.

McGeady ended up scoring the equaliser in a 2-2 draw, and turned to run and celebrate in front of the Preston fans as he hit back against his critics. Unsurprisingly, Preston fans have since enjoyed seeing McGeady suffer relegation and miss out on promotion with Sunderland.

That’s why this interview was so eagerly anticipated. Fans have wanted to hear McGeady’s side of the story, and whilst it wasn’t actually going to be asked, McGeady brought up the subject himself.

The winger admitted that he wanted to clear things up, defending his comments by suggesting that he added the caveat of being good on paper means nothing if you don’t back it up on the pitch – and that was proven as Sunderland suffered relegation.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – MARCH 18: Preston North End’s Aidan McGeady scores his sides equalising goal to make the score 2-2 in the third minute of injury time during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End at Ewood Park on March 18, 2017 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Stephen White – CameraSport via Getty Images)

McGeady seemingly received some stick from Preston fans in the lead-up to the game, and when he was being booed at Deepdale, he decided to give the North End faithful a little bit back in retaliation. McGeady added that he regrets how that day transpired, because he would like to still have a strong relationship with Preston fans.

“I do want to clear it up to be honest, because it does annoy me,” said McGeady. “I had a great relationship with the fans there, and that’s probably something you can never ever get back. The only way to explain it is that I was going back to Preston and I was getting a lot of fans writing things to me and talking about me, not nasty things but a bit of banter and things like that. I thought to myself ‘it’s funny, it’s kind of like everything that happened last season has been forgotten about a little bit’. I suppose that’s the way a football fan is, they’ve got short memories, but I had no intention of anything like that happening at Deepdale.”

“I’ve still got a lot of friends there, I still spoke to a lot of the lads. I remember getting to the stadium, and I remember warming up, and I think a couple of fans said a couple of things to me when I was walking back in the tunnel. I thought ‘that’s a bit strange’, as if I was the enemy. I didn’t really think anything of it, and then when the game started, I went over to take a corner, it was the first time I touched the ball and I was getting booed. I’m quite emotional, so I was getting it the whole game and I thought ‘nah, I’m not having this’. Then when I scored, I thought ‘I need to kind of give it back to them’. In hindsight, I wish I’d never done it – of course I do, because it did sour all the memories that people had of me, and the rapport I had with the fans at Preston.”

“I think after it I met a Preston fan, and he said to me ‘you were getting booed because you did an interview before that game, talking about how Sunderland were a better team than Preston or a bigger club than Preston, and I was like ‘no, I’ll set you straight on that’. You might have seen a little clip of the interview I’d done, but basically what I said was that I got asked the question… ‘Sunderland are a big club, do you think you’ll beat Preston?’, and I basically said it as simple as this: if you look on paper, our team should probably beat Preston, and there’s no denying that with the team we had at that time, without being disrespectful to Preston – and I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. I did say ‘that means nothing’, that really means nothing, and as the season went on, it was proven – you can be a great team on paper but if you don’t perform on a Saturday, it means nothing. I wasn’t just saying ‘we’re better than Preston’ or ‘we’ve got better players than Preston’, I wasn’t saying that at all, I was just trying to say that we could be the biggest club in the league and have the biggest stadium and the biggest budget, but that means nothing at the end of the day if you don’t do it on a Saturday – that’s all I was trying to say.”

“The fan was like ‘I suppose that’s fair enough’, but obviously fans maybe only saw a 10-second clip of me saying ‘we’re better than Preston’. It’s something I regret, of course it is, and I suppose I’d probably like the chance to just say that… you know, in football I wouldn’t apologise for anything, because football is an emotional game and if you give it out, you’ve got to take it back as well. It’s just unfortunate that it came to the situation where I felt that I had to do that. I regret it, of course I do, it’s just one of those things that I didn’t even think it through, and it happened and I was just really emotional at the time. I suppose if I could go back, I probably wouldn’t have done it, and I’d still like to have that good relationship and be held in good regard by the fans there.”

PRESTON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 11: Preston North End’s Aidan McGeady celebrates scoring his sides third goal with his team mates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Brentford at Deepdale on February 11, 2017 in Preston, England. (Photo by Stephen White – CameraSport via Getty Images)

McGeady was also asked about his move to Sunderland. Preston fans were desperate for him to stay, and he has now admitted that he wanted to stay too, even if a better offer arrived.

Peter Ridsdale tried to make a deal happen, but North End just couldn’t get the finances to work – even with McGeady pushing for a move back to Deepdale just days before signing for Sunderland.

In the end, Preston focused on getting a new manager on board following Simon Grayson’s move to Sunderland, and didn’t want to hold McGeady up. The 34-year-old is adamant that he wanted to return to Preston, but it just didn’t happen – and may now hope that telling his side of the story will remove any lingering animosity.

“I was still living in Preston at the time, the season had finished and every supporter would say to me ‘what are you doing, are you staying, are you staying?’. I literally had no idea – I kept staying I wanted to stay, of course I did. I had one year left on my contract, and I think Everton wanted not a massive amount of money, but they wanted me gone. I think Peter Ridsdale went to Everton quite early on in the summer, and he was like ‘look, we want to take him’, I said ‘I’d 100% sign here’. Even if a better offer came in on more money, it didn’t really bother me – I didn’t want to lose what I had at Preston.”

“Ultimately, financially, I don’t think Preston could do it, so as the summer carried on, obviously Simon Grayson went to Sunderland and took the job there. One of the first things he did was text me saying ‘would you fancy it?’. Of course, of course I’d fancy it, but even at the same time, I still did want to come back to Preston – even with Sunderland in the background. I think I even said to my agent a couple of days before I signed for Sunderland ‘phone Peter Ridsdale and let them know the situation, and see if they can still do it’, because I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed it and how much I wanted to carry it on. Football’s funny, I think the last conversation they had was Peter Ridsdale saying to my agent ‘I don’t think we can do it financially, for what Everton want and what he might want wages-wise, so if he’s got Sunderland there, we won’t hold him up’. So ultimately, Preston wasn’t really there.”

“I still remember when I signed for Sunderland, I got a lot of fans messaging me on social media saying ‘I can’t believe you’ve done this and I can’t believe you’ve done that’. Honestly, if I could’ve went back to Preston, if I could have, I would have. Obviously with the manager leaving, I thought he was a big part of it for me there. The club was a bit, not in turmoil, but obviously they were thinking about getting a new manager in and probably didn’t know what players the new manager wanted, so I think that’s maybe what forced their hand a little bit. Ultimately, it wasn’t there for me, which was disappointing but I moved on to Sunderland,” he added.

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