Express & Star

Former Wolves man and promotion specialist Lee Evans eyeing next challenge

Lee Evans was once part of a winning Wolves team against Liverpool at Anfield on what was a special afternoon for the travelling supporters. A decade on from his impressive breakthrough at Molineux, the Welsh international is hungry for a fresh challenge.

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Lee Evans walks out for a memorable FA Cup afternoon at Anfield that saw then-Championship Wolves stun their Premier League hosts, winning 2-1 (AMA)

It is now a decade since Lee Evans finished his first season at Wolves as part of the record-breaking team which stormed to the League One title and not only righted the shipwreck of back-to-back relegations, but sparked the good ship Molineux back into life.

That wasn’t his first promotion, nor was it his last. Good Evans, indeed!

He had already played half a season with Newport County prior to joining Wolves in January 2013, moving on when they were top of the Conference enroute to winning the play-offs to return to the Football League.

He did the same as a mainstay for the first half of the 2017/18 campaign with Wigan to land his second League One title-winners’ medal, and similar again for the opening segment of Ipswich’s recent fairytale as they finished League One runners-up in 2022/23.

And in the season just gone? Even though it has been seriously affected by injury, Evans made a handful of appearances again with Ipswich, now promoted from the Championship, and then with Portsmouth, who won League One.

“You're squeezing it a bit if you're including the Ipswich one this year!” he laughs.

Evans, who turns 30 in July, certainly isn’t trying to claim this season’s successes to make it six of the best, but to be associated with squads which are upwardly mobile is a very good habit to have. And now, out of contract, the stylish midfielder is ready for his next port of call, and potentially another promotion port of call!

“I’m feeling fresh, ready to go and looking forward to seeing what the summer brings and hopefully another exciting new challenge,” he says.

“The injury I had this season to my knee is one which has niggled me for a few years but, having had surgery, that problem has gone which is a real positive.

“I’m still only 29, and probably around my prime for a midfield player, and over my time at Ipswich I’ve worked with a manager in Kieran McKenna who has improved my game massively.

Kenny Jackett gave Evans his break

“I definitely feel I’ve got so much still to offer and can’t wait to get an opportunity to get going again and play a big part somewhere next season.”

It only needs a cursory glance at the Evans CV to note that he has played for a host of big clubs already during his career.

Wolves, Ipswich, Portsmouth, Wigan, Bradford and Sheffield United all have present or recent Premier League history, and have helped provide a plethora of different experiences for the Newport-born midfielder.

But Newport, his hometown club, is where it all began for Evans, and in pretty spectacular fashion.

Justin Edinburgh, who has since sadly passed away, was the manager who gave him his senior debut at the age of 17, in a 1-1 draw at Cambridge.

Just three appearances later, Evans was turning out at Wembley, starting in a 2-0 defeat against York in the final of the FA Trophy. Quite an introduction.

“Imagine that, in your fourth game of football, at 17, playing at Wembley,” he recalls.

“What an incredible memory to have so early in my career.”

And then came Wolves.

A key figure in that promotion-heading Newport side, interest came late in the window, but it was an opportunity which was too good to turn down, even though his first half season was spent learning the ropes in Wolves’ development side.

Kenny Jackett’s arrival, heralding the changing of the guard and the need for a new direction after a season of turmoil and vitriol, offered a blank page for those young talents wanting to make a breakthrough into the challenge of League One.

Evans was among those to write his own chapter.

There was a big-day feel to the first game of the season at Preston, Ron Flowers leading Wolves out on the 125th anniversary of the Football League, and 5,000 vociferous Wolves fans, ready to forgive their club, packed behind the goal.

That was Evans’ debut, a goalless draw, but the following weekend, at a sun-drenched Molineux, he both scored and won a penalty in the 4-0 win against Gillingham which set the season alight.