Jimmy Bullard was cock of the walk for three seasons at Fulham.
During a difficult time in the club’s Premier League history, the cheeky east-Londoner was the light relief the Fulham team needed.
And Bullard’s ability to grab a game by the scruff of its neck and hit the back of the net from from a free-kick – when it really mattered – ensured he was a huge hit with the fans.
But all good things eventually come to an end, although, perhaps not as abruptly as Bullard’s break-up with Fulham.
After Chris Coleman and Lawrie Sanchez’s tenures in the Cottage hotseat, Roy Hodgson took the reins and suddenly things were a little different for Bullard.
Speaking exclusively to Mirror Sport, Bullard recalled the period.
He said: “I loved my time at Fulham. A lot of the reason why I signed for Fulham was because of Chris Coleman. I loved what he had to say, and coming back to London.
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“I was injured and I remember Chris Coleman got the sack, and then we had Lawrie Sanchez and then Roy Hodgson came in.
“I still loved my time there but he brought in a style that was very – he wanted me to play a certain role, which was very defensive-minded.
“I understood why, but I didn’t like playing that way. I have always been interested in entertaining, scoring goals, making things happen, doing things off the cuff, and Chris Coleman offered me that.
“He said ‘Jim I want you to run the changing room, you and Browny (Michael Brown)’, Browny was skipper. ‘We have got a real foreign allegiance. I want you to bring in a bit of Brit. I want you to bring in a bit of spunk in the changing room, we’re very quiet’. I loved that!
“‘I want you to get on the ball at every opportunity’, I loved that! ‘Jim, I just want you to go forward, I’m going to sit Papa Bouba Diop, bless him, right behind you’, loved that!
“Everything he said was like ‘Wow, right, where do I sign?’ Oh yeah, and he was like ‘Here you go by the way, here’s your contract, which is double what you were one’. And I was going back home, it was game over. Perfect!”
Bullard admits he struggled to adapt to Hodgon’s style of play; which was rigid and defensive and prevented the midfielder from working on instinct.
This, coupled with the fact that he started clashing with Hodgson – and the manager’s backroom staff – saw Bullard reach a fork in the road.
It was at this point that Hull City made a then club-record £5million bid for the Englishman, complete with a lucrative contract.
And although the deal was an attractive one, Bullard insists there was a lot more behind his decision to leave Fulham for Hull.
He added: “Roy came in with different ideas, but we were struggling, and to be fair what I know now, Fulham and Roy, he was the right man.
“But it wasn’t right for me. And then we started to clash a little bit. He said things; ‘Ah, turn it in gaffer, I just want to do this and that’.
“And in the end it just went from bad to worse. He had Mike Kelly as his assistant and he was doing my nut in half the time and I was telling him where to go. It was a clash of characters.
“It was what it was, I told everyone face to face what I thought.
“Everyone always said it [moving to Hull] was about the money and all that. No. It was an eye-catching contract, yes, but it wasn’t the sole reason.
“Now that I’m 42 and I look back on it, it was no one’s fault, it just wasn’t the right place for me at that time. It wasn’t the right fit and it happens.
“I was selfish, but there were other people at Fulham who were selfish too. It takes two to tango. There were things he done that were bang out of order and I told him that, but I’d never go to press about the details. It is what it is.”
Bullard left Fulham in 2009 and just one year later his former team-mates made their way to the final of the Europa League against all the odds.
Bullard could have been a part of the Fulham side that made history, but he says he didn’t look on with envy; he made the decision that was right for him at the time and sticks by it.
“I’m never one to look back,” said Bullard. “It was more speaking to the players; ‘You’re flying, well done’, but I had to crack on with my career, so I left that. I parked it.”
* Off The Hook with Jimmy Bullard is available now wherever you get your podcasts. More information is available via this link.