Dean Hammond has opened up about how his Sheffield United career came to an end in 2016.
Hammond had just spent a year on loan with the Blades in what was a disappointing season under manager Nigel Adkins.
United finished 11th in League One in 2015/16 – their lowest position since 1983.
Hammond had previously played under Adkins at Southampton and the 55-year-old played a key role in signing the midfielder from Leicester City.
So when he was sacked in May 2016, it made it less likely the 37-year-old would stay. Or so it seemed.
Hammond had the offer of a permanent contract at Bramall Lane, but after Chris Wilder succeeded Adkins as Blades boss, that was never signed.
Not that he was to know it at the time, but it effectively ended his career.
Hammond would never play professionally again and admits some dark times followed.
He says he was drinking too much, spending too much time with the wrong people and essentially “running away from the game”.
So what actually happened when Wilder took charge?
Dean Hammond on why he didn’t stay
“Chris was great. He was honest with me, he was straight with me,” Hammond told The Sheff United Way podcast. “He said; ‘Look, you’re not really in my plans’. That was fine, I understood that and then obviously the contract didn’t happen.
“I wanted to continue my career, to be honest. But I think for everyone it needed a change. I think if I’d stayed at the club I don’t think it would have worked out for anyone. Chris wanted to go in a different direction.
“I hadn’t had a very good season, we’d just had my third child. I’d been away from the family for a long time with travelling and commuting. These are not excuses, by the way, this is just how it was.
“I decided to take three or four months out the game, spend some time with the family. Then I’ll try and get back in the game after that – never happened and I had a difficult couple of years. Mentally if affected me.”
Although Hammond would never play again beyond non-league and the Leicester Under-23s, he has found a way back into the game after all.
He now does media work for the Foxes and Southampton, as well as having his own fitness platform.
Hammond was also previously loan manager at Leicester, looking after the loanees from the club.
His time with the Blades was a low point in both his career and the club’s history, but it’s good to see things have worked out all round since.