Striker Sam Vokes doesn’t hold a grudge against the club that released him as a youngster.
In fact, the Welshman can’t even recall the day that Southampton ousted him from their academy as a 10-year-old.
The 25-year-old, who was a season ticket holder at the Dell alongside dad, Tim, watched his first Saints game in 1993 when Kevin Moore, Jeff Kenna and Iain Dowie scored in a 3-2 win over Sheffield United.
Ahead of the trip to the St Mary’s Stadium today, where Vokes will be hoping to make his second Premier League start, he said: “It’s the game I always look forward to. It’s the club I supported as a child so I’m looking forward to going back down there.
“The connection adds to the motivation and there are a couple of other lads here from that area so it’s one we look forward to.
“It’s the team I’ve followed since I was a youngster and I still look out for their results. But it’s a professional view now - we want to go there and get the points we need.”
It’s the club I supported as a child so I’m looking forward to going back down there.Sam Vokes
Vokes, who was taken on by Bournemouth as a teenager when representing Southampton Schools, added: “At that age you never really think about being done or anything like that. You just go and enjoy playing with your mates in the local village side.
“I was just happy to go back and play local football with my mates. At the time it was one of those where I just got on with it. I couldn’t remember who it was that rejected me - I just got pied off.
“I was a young kid at the time but it’s one of those things. I ended up getting my chance at Bournemouth and took it. I can’t really remember a lot about it.”
The Wales international, added to Chris Coleman’s squad for the Euro Championship Group B qualifier against Israel in Haifa on March 28th, scored in the seven-goal thriller against the Saints in the FA Cup last term.
Now Vokes, who enlists Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier as his idols, is seeking his first ever Premier League goal on his return.
“That would be incredible,” he said. “Since getting back there’s been a few stepping stones as you go along and another box to tick would be that first Premier League goal.
“It’s not weighing on my mind though. You go into games looking to get goals so you put a certain amount of pressure on yourself in any game but I look forward to it.”
And the striker, who scored 47 goals in all competitions alongside Danny Ings last season, is backing his team-mates to achieve something ‘massive’.
“The squad is similar to last year and we achieved something massive then and we’ve added great players since,” he said. “If we can back that up and look to achieve, it would be massive for everyone.
“We came in on Monday and there was a great feeling around the place and a buzz around the town. Everyone realised how big a win that was (against City) as there’s a lot of teams around us picking up points so it was a big three points.”
Vokes added: “Now it’s important we put that to one side and it won’t mean anything if we don’t pick up points in the next few games.
“We have to back it up. We’re at that stage of the season where there’s nine games to go and it’s important we back that win up with points.”