Jermaine Beckford is hoping his reunion with Simon Grayson will help him rekindle former glories with Preston North End.
The 30-year-old striker – who joined Preston on loan last week and will remain at the club until January – has worked under the current Preston manager on a couple of occasions in the past, most notably at Leeds United.
It was at Elland Road where Beckford admits he enjoyed his greatest time as a player.
Beckford scored a phenomenal 85 goals in 152 appearances for the Whites and was an integral member of Grayson’s team which won promotion back to the Championship in 2010.
He also scored the winner at Old Trafford when Leeds famously knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup at the third-round stage.
And when his goalscoring exploits attracted interest from several clubs in the Premier League, it was ex-PNE boss David Moyes who signed him for Everton.
He did not quite live up to expectations at Goodison Park, scoring 10 goals in 40 appearances although much of his time with the Toffees was spent on the substitutes’ bench.
After a year, he was sold to Leicester City for £3m, before going on to have spells with Huddersfield – where he once again linked up with Grayson – and Bolton Wanderers.
It is fair to say that Beckford has not quite hit the heights of his time at Leeds, since leaving Elland Road.
However, he believes he has still got plenty of good football – and goals – left in him and is aiming to repay Grayson’s faith by helping North End’s promotion charge this season.
“My spell at Leeds was probably the best time of my career,” Beckford said.
“I made loads of friends there and we had a lot of success.
“My ratio of goals to games was very good.
“I played under the manager there and also at Huddersfield.
“It was a pretty straightforward decision for me to come to Preston.
“I know how good he and Glynn Snodin are. I know exactly what they expect from me and I know what to expect from them.
“They have been able to get the best out of me in the past and we have an understanding of each other.
“They know what type of player I am – it’s almost a match made in heaven.”
When the news of Beckford’s arrival at Deepdale was announced last week, many North End supporters were left licking their lips at the prospect of him linking up with Joe Garner in attack.
And the loan man admits he would relish the opportunity to partner the PNE goal machine.
“I have seen Joe play and he’s one of those players that you can’t help but keep your eyes on,” Beckford said.
“Especially being a forward as well, you tend to watch how other forwards play and learn about their strengths and their attributes.
“Over the last year or two, I have heard a lot about him and then you start to watch him.
“I think he’s brilliant player and has got a great future ahead of him. For the size of him, Joe does really well to get up high and beat really big defenders in the air, not to mention that his goalscoring record is pretty impressive too.”
Grayson decided not to throw Beckford straight into the fray for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at Bristol City.
He was handed a place on the substitutes’ bench and appeared the favourite to replace Garner, who was withdrawn at half-time with a bruised shin.
However, Grayson opted to use Kevin Davies instead in the second half, as Preston secured a vital 1-0 victory over the League One leaders.
Despite being overlooked on that occasion, there is a strong suggestion that Beckford will make his North End debut in tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area quarter-final tie against Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park.
“I was not really disappointed about not coming on Saturday,” Beckford said.
“You have to look at the way team has been playing. It’s all about being part of a team rather than being selfish.
“Obviously from a personal point of view, you want to play every game but when the team is doing well, you can’t complain.
“I’m feeling fit and hopefully will be ready for tonight’s game.
“I was surprised to see Preston come in for me because they have been going well, third in the table, although they had lost their last two or three league games.
“But you could see on Saturday exactly why the team are where they are and it’s a great opportunity for me.”