He was plucked from non-league Grays Athletic by Wolves in 2006 and went on to score 24 goals in 127 appearances, helping them to promotion from the Championship in 2009.
Injury problems meant Kightly’s time in the Premier League with Wolves was rather stop-start and he went on to play for Watford, Stoke City, Burnley, Burton Albion and Southend United before retiring from the professional game in 2019. But he has now agreed to return to non-league, where he will be part of Liam McDonald’s Pics squad in the Southern Central Premier this season.
“During lockdown I’ve been thinking more and more about getting back into playing again,” said Kightly. “But it had to be at the right club; somewhere local where I could be involved in building something and just enjoy playing football.
“Coming here ticks all of those boxes; I’ve had some good conversations with the gaffer, who is enthusiastic and really understands the game, and I feel that I can help the younger players around me in what is a good, positive environment.
“My little lad, Leo, trains and plays at Dales Lane so I’ve been over here a few times and like the set-up and the family feel of the place.
“Hopefully I can help bring some success; every player, no matter what level you play at, wants to win football matches and there is no reason why we can’t be up there challenging during the season ahead.
“I’ve played in non-league before earlier in my career so I know what it’s all about and I just can’t wait to get started.
“The gaffer plus the chairman and vice-chairman have really impressed me with their vision and passion for the club. As I say, it was important that I chose the right club and I feel that I have done that.”
Kightly admits that despite being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter while growing up, he is now a fully-fledged Wolves fan.
“My boy, Leo, who is five, is already a massive Wolves supporter,” he added. “We’ve been along to matches as fans and it’s great.
“It helps that I used to play for the club but, especially living locally, I would class myself as a proper Wolves fan now!”
Delighted manager Liam McDonald added: “This is a massive coup for the club. Throughout all of the talks we’ve had, it’s always been very positive; he can see what we are trying to achieve here and wants to be part of it.
“He’s had a lot of offers, as you would expect, but he has chosen us and having seen him in training, it is clear that he will be a big asset.
“He’s going to help in the development of our young players, particularly the attackers, and the lads are buzzing to have him here, especially the Wolves supporters among the group!
“This is the icing on the cake for us in pre-season. Things have gone well in terms of results, performances and the players that we have been able to bring in and this really does top that off nicely.
“I can’t wait to work closely with him and am even more excited for the new season to get under way now!”