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The ex-Wolf - Nathan Blake

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Welsh striker Nathan Blake arrived at Wolves as part of a huge £11million spending spree in 2001.

Sir Jack Hayward went for broke, giving manager Dave Jones the budget of his dreams as Kenny Miller, Mark Kennedy, Shaun Newton, Alex Rae, Colin Cameron and Kenny Miller joined Blake in one last attempt to finance Premier League football.

Blake celebrates scoring at the Hawthorns during a 1-1 Black Country derby draw in October 2001.

Blake scored at the Millennium Stadium a year later when Wolves beat Sheffield United 3-0 in the play-off final.

But he rarely featured in the Premier League and, amid a fall-out with Jones, left at the end of that season before retiring shortly afterwards.

Here Blake lifts the lid on three eventful seasons at Molineux.

How did you join Wolves?

Dave Jones brought me in from Blackburn Rovers.

I didn't really see eye to eye with Blackburn manager Graeme Souness, he told me of Wolves' interest and asked if I wanted to go there or stay and fight for a place.

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I jumped at the opportunity, I knew Wolves were a massive club, you'd heard all about them spending a lot of money but not breaking that duck of getting promoted so I wanted to be a part of trying to do that.

Blake lifts the play-off trophy

Dave was alright, what he did was get together a group of men. There were a lot of leaders in that team.

If I think now of Paul Butler, then you had a class player in Denis Irwin, Incey (Paul Ince), myself up front, we had Oakesy (Michael Oakes), we had a spine of a very good team and if some of them weren't pulling their weight there were would plenty of people who'd pull you up on it.

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Best memory at the club

Cardiff (for the play-off final win) was a great memory but we had plenty in those years.

In our dressing room, every day was entertainment.

Shaun Newton, George Ndah, Paul Butler, Kenny Miller, Lescott, Matty (Matt Murray), Lee Naylor, Oaksey, we had a really good unit.

It was a great couple of years and yes the play-off game in my home town was wonderful. I always hold that game in great esteem.

The boys probably would have preferred to play at Wembley but once you were there it didn't matter.

I remember the atmosphere driving to the game, I can remember thinking I'd seen all the Sheffield United fans - where are all the Wolves fans?

And then we turned the corner and it was a sea of gold. The hairs stood up on your neck and I still get that now thinking about it.

Worst memory at the club

Joleon Lescott and Blake

The worst moment for me, we were ripping up the Championship in 2002/03 and I think we'd have won the league if I stayed fit.

I broke my foot at Portsmouth in November and that was the worst moment. I was on fire - I was thinking I'd score 25 goals (Blake had nine goals in 14 starts at that point) that season.

It was an innocuous challenge at Molineux and my foot got stuck in the ground.

They were saying I'd possibly be back for the next pre-season at best.

But I got some extra treatment at home, starting running probably four weeks earlier than I should have done.

Fortunately I got back in time for the play-offs. I played through the pain though.

My foot still hurts now but it was worth it for the memories.

Most talented player you played with?

Joleon Lescott was obviously a very talented boy.

Matt Murray too. The only season he had when I was there was the promotion season. He could have played in a nothing season, neither here nor there, but his one fantastic season he got promoted.

I expected him to go on to much greater things but sadly his injuries prevented that.

Favourite goal in a Wolves shirt?

Blake and Dave Jones didn't see eye to eye after he was frozen out during the Premier League season in 2003/04

I played against Pagey (centre half Robert Page) and it was just a great occasion all round, absolutely fantastic.

Did you get on well with the fans?

I had a good rapport with the fans, we all did in that team.

I'd like to think I've always been a fan's kind of player, I grew up on a council estate, I guess they could relate to me.

How did you end up leaving Wolves? Any regrets?

It ended in bad circumstances.

During the Premier League season I was fifth or sixth choice - they had Kenny Miller, Deano (Dean Sturridge), Henri Camara, Carl Cort, I wasn't involved.

I had an opportunity to play for Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth and I was coming to the end of my Wolves contract.

Portsmouth wanted me and I must have had four calls from my agent saying Wolves had kept upping the asking price.

Pompey kept agreeing but then in the end Wolves said I wasn't for sale, but then they didn't give me a new contract either.

Blake celebrates one of three goals he scored in a 4-0 win at Gillingham in October 2002. Just a week later he suffered a bad foot injury and would only score five more goals for the club.

It was quite vindictive but I largely held the manager (Dave Jones) responsible because there was no need.

I was 32 or 33 at the time and Portsmouth would have been a swansong for me.

My body was battered, I was thinking I don't know how much longer my body would hold up. I was aggrieved at how it ended, there was never going to be another contract so why do it?

I left Wolves at the end of the season, went to Leicester in the end and snapped my hamstring, that was the end of me.

The surprising thing for me was when Dave Jones took over at Cardiff he called me up and asked me to play for him, I said you're joking aren't you.

Do you still watch Wolves?

I always watch the Wolves when I can, one of my best friends is a big fan, I'll always follow the team.

I've got such fond memories of the place.

The way I left is water under the bridge now, I don't hold the club responsible and I've got a lot of time for the club and the fans.

What are you up to now?

I was on the board at Newport County as a non-executive director but left three weeks ago.

I came in with a plan from my 23 years of experience in professional football but I felt the advice I was trying to give was, nine times out of 10, being overlooked, so you think what is the point.

I put a lot of effort in for little reward.

I'm still doing stuff with the BBC and in the media world and I've got some exciting things coming up.

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