PLAY-OFF hero Steven Thompson is moving back home after a frustrating final season with Burnley.
But he admits nothing will erase the memory of his first two years at Turf Moor.
Thompson is out of contract and will return to the Scottish Premier League – with Hibernian and St Mirren believed to be leading the chase.
And while he has made only four starts this year, he prefers to look back on the promotion season and his first taste of Premier League football as he remembers his time in East Lancashire.
The 32-year-old goes down as one of Owen Coyle’s best signings – a free from Saturday’s final day opponents Cardiff City, scoring 11 goals in his first season in a 30-goal partnership with Martin Paterson.
The pair both scored spectacular efforts in the play-off semi-final second leg win at Reading, before starting at Wembley.
Opportunities were limited for Thommo in the top flight, but he ended the season with a bang, with four goals in six games, and after an impressive pre-season was overlooked in favour of Chris Iwelumo.
However, the former Scotland striker said: “I’ve had three great years here – well, two really – but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here and I have some fantastic memories to take with me.
“The year that I came was just incredible, such an enjoyable and magical year.
“The team spirit we had and the victories we had, the play-offs and Wembley. It was a mindblowing season. It was just fantastic.”
Thompson’s goal and celebration at the Madejski Stadium are iconic images in the promotion season, and he smiled: “I was delighted to get the goal and the manager had put me back in after I’d been out with an ankle injury.
“It was a big highlight but starting at Wembley in the final was also right up there.
“Of course last year in the Premier League, I would have liked to have played more but getting some goals in the Premier League is something that I can remember fondly.”
He would have liked the chance to build on that form this season.
Thompson said: “I’m frustrated about the way this year’s gone.
“Obviously I would have liked to have played more.
“But I feel as though on the occasions that I have been given the opportunity to start a match, which was very seldom, that I did well.
”Yet nobody wanted to give me a sustained run in the team.
“There’s nothing you can do, but if you don’t get a run in the team, you’re never going to be able to find any form.
“I’m disappointed. I think I’ll just erase this year from my memory, and just remember the two previous years.
“But I’ve met some wonderful people.
“All the people at the club are fantastic, the staff are great and obviously the fans as well.
“I’ve had a great rapport with them. It’s been a great experience.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I leave with fond memories.
“I won’t be looking back on this year when I look back on my time at Burnley.”
After five years in England, where he also played in the FA Cup final with Cardiff – as well as writing and performing the Bluebirds’ final song Do The Ayatollah – he looks set to return to the SPL, where he starred previously with Dundee United and Rangers.
He said: “Next for me is hopefully the SPL, back home where it all started.
“Hopefully I’ll get back to playing week in week out and getting a smile on my face again and enjoying it really.
“When you get to 32, 33 you don’t know what your longevity’s going to be.
“Hopefully, I’ve got two or three really good seasons left. I still feel very fit.
“Hopefully I’ve got a bit left in the tank.
“I’ve got a few options so that will be getting worked out in the next couple of weeks.
“I’m going to have a discussion with my agent and my family and decide what’s best.
“I’ve forgotten what it’s like to play week in week out.”