Jon Macken enjoyed a 20-year playing career, but it’s fair to say he enjoyed his greatest success with Preston.

North End pounced to sign Macken from Manchester United in 1997, aged just 19. The £250,000 fee North End paid to sign him proved to be a bargain, enjoying a superb spell at Deepdale.

Macken hit 63 goals in 189 games for North End, meaning he was a one in three striker, before he headed back to Manchester. This time, he joined United’s rivals City, in a huge £5million deal.

Macken couldn’t really replicate that Preston form anywhere else, through spells with City, Crystal Palace, Ipswich Town, Derby County, Barnsley, Walsall, Northwich Victoria, Stockport County and Bamber Bridge.

Now manager of Northern Premier League side Radcliffe Borough, Macken is looking to further his coaching career. Macken won promotion with Radcliffe last season, and has now opened up on his hopes for a return to Preston.

Jon Macken of Preston North End celebrates scoring against Manchester City. Credit: Gary M. Prior/ALLSPORT

Macken, speaking in an exclusive interview to Lancs Live last week, admitted that he’d love a Deepdale comeback. He always wanted to play for Preston in the Premier League, but with that no longer possible, he hopes to one day return to the coaching staff.

Macken even revealed that he has heard great things about Alex Neil, and has even spoken to the North End boss. Neil is willing to let Macken come down to Springfields to watch Preston train and learn his methods, which is a huge opportunity for him.

“It is one place where I have always wanted to have some part of and be part of,” said Macken. “One thing that I wanted to do was to take Preston into the Premier League and it is something I still want to do now! Obviously I can’t do it as a player but if it is in another sense as a coach or a manager, which is a long way off, but I have big ambitions to do things and to get in at Preston would be unbelievable.

“It is waiting to get there (to the Premier League) and take a grip of it and stay there and I believe it can do, I really do. It is a fantastic football club, it gave me a platform to build my career and I will be forever grateful for that. I have a great rapport with the fans and the club in general. I have heard very good things about Alex Neil as a person and as a coach and he has done a great job already at Preston. I wish them all the best. Hopefully I will get the chance to come in and see how he works and pick his brains. I have asked and he kindly said he would allow me to do that which would be massive for me,” he added.

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