Mansfield Town legend Matt Green says he is ‘excited’ to be back and can’t wait to add to his goals tally for the club after dropping two divisions to ‘come home’ following his two-year injury nightmare at Birmingham City.
Goal machine Green (28) met up with some of his adoring fans in a signing session at One Call Stadium on Monday afternoon and said a return to the Stags was the perfect move for him just two years after his goals fired Mansfield back into the Football League as Conference champions.
He also admitted he has one eye on breaking the club’s all-time scoring record, currently standing at 104 by Harry Johnson between 1932-35, after bagging 57 goals in his two seasons between 2011 and 2013.
Stags fans had been clamouring for Green’s return, but few dared to believe he would actually sign.
However, he has put pen to paper on a two-year deal with Adam Murray’s men and Green said: “After being out for a long time with complications with this, that and the other, it was a bit of a no-brainer to be honest.
“I speak to the gaffer regularly anyway and I just wanted to get back to enjoying my football.
“I need to get back to scoring goals and proving myself on the football pitch week in, week out and I couldn’t think of a better place to do that – the place I came from originally – Mansfield Town.
“I had two very, very good years here and two successful years - the relationship I had with the fans, the chairman and the backroom staff as well.”
At Birmingham, Mansfield’s was the first result Green would look for on a Saturday tea time and he said: “When you’ve been somewhere and you’ve had a good time, you always think about it and obviously the club is special to me and my family. So you always wish the club well and want the best for them when you’ve been a part of the success.
“We are still living in Birmingham at the moment but we will be moving up to Mansfield or Nottinghamshire at some point.”
I just wanted to get back enjoying my football and be settled somewhere I can express myself on a Saturday
Green’s heroics for Mansfield earned him the dream move to Birmingham, but that all went sour very quickly as he sustained knee ligament damage in training in November 2013.
That should have only ruled him out for nine months, but niggling problems in his recovery led to the shock discovery that he was trying to get fit while also nursing a fractured kneecap and his lay-off became a 16-month nightmare.
Green admitted he had gone through some dark days in that time but the birth of his son Otis had helped pull him through.
“That’s football. It can do that,” he said. “It can make you high, on top of the world, and then it can be pulled from under your feet.
“It was a horrible time, especially as I was doing okay when I was playing and I scored a few goals there.
“It wasn’t a nice experience. But it’s just part of the career. You have to take the rough with the smooth. I am just excited now to have a good opportunity here.
“It was a random occurrence that I had a fractured kneecap and very frustrating. I was training through it and it wasn’t getting better.
“Eventually we got round to having it scanned and it showed the fracture. Then it was just a case of resting for three weeks and letting it heal and, since that point, I’ve never looked back. It was something so simple that should have probably been addressed a lot sooner.
“I’d probably had it five or six months and been training through it.”
He added: “It’s difficult to explain how it happened but it ended up making the original injury a lot longer than it should have been.
“You do hit some low points, but if you let it eat you up it can get out of control.
“I had my son there, who’s just turned one now, so it was all hands on deck with him which kept my mind in a good place and I was just excited walking round the house wanting to get back on the pitch.
“I was kicking a little ball round the house to keep myself sane. The difficult thing is you can’t do your talking on the pitch, you can’t express yourself which you miss greatly.
“I worked so hard to get back to the Championship, which is where I made a start in my career at Cardiff and the place I wanted to get back to as I felt my ability was good enough to compete at that level.
“It is frustrating. But you can’t let it get to you. That’s football and I am just happy to get a very good opportunity here. I could have waited and tried to hold out for a Championship club, but I knew in my mind I just wanted to get back enjoying my football and be settled somewhere I can express myself on a Saturday.
“My fitness now in general is as good as gold. It was a slip-up which turned the injury into a longer time out, but there was nothing they couldn’t fix or nothing that couldn’t be fixed.
“My general fitness is very good and my sharpness is decent. I scored a goal in a cup game for Birmingham just before I got released, I was getting chances and opportunities. It’s now just a case of taking my time, getting a good pre-season in, and being ready to hit the start of the season.”
After a poor campaign in which the Stags flirted with relegation, Green feels boss Murray has brought in a good mix of players this summer and believes more success could be on the horizon.
“With the players the gaffer has brought in there is going to be plenty of competition for places to keep you on your toes,” he said. “And obviously it is League Two as well, so I am just looking forward to it in general.
“I have not come here to be another number or just warm the bench, though if I have to I will as there is going to be a lot of competition.
“But I have come here for more success and I think under the gaffer things will be a lot different next season, hopefully, and the players he has brought in are proven at this level of football.
“They are experienced, and we have some good young players coming through as well I am told.
“I think if everyone puts the graft in, as I am sure they will, there is no reason why last season won’t be forgotten very quick.”
Some say never go back in your career, but it has worked for others and Green is convinced he can continue making nets bulge up and down the land in the Amber & Blue.
“I am coming here to try to make sure I do pick up where I left off,” he said.
“Yes, there is pressure, but I have trained at a Championship club and played in the Championship over the past two years and I will be taking all the things I’ve learned from my time there into League Two and trying to use those tools.”
His phenomenal 57 goals in two seasons has already got him over halfway towards the club’s all-time top scorer accolade and he admitted: “When I signed, I asked the chairman what the club’s all-time top scorer was on.
“That would be a great achievement and I’d be very proud if I could do that.
“My main objective week in week out is to get three points on a Saturday for the team.
“But that will be running through my head as well – not that I need anything else to make me score goals. If there is a goal to be scored I will no matter what - that’s just in my make up.”