Paul Gallagher’s Premier League dream for Preston North End
It would be the icing on the cake in the career of veteran midfielder Paul Gallagher if he could help guide Preston into the Premier League.
The 35-year-old is currently a handful of games short of making 300 appearances for the club.
Having enjoyed a short stint on loan at Deepdale more than a decade ago during the 2007/08 season, Gallagher returned in October 2013.
For the next two seasons, he was borrowed from Leicester City before making the move permanent in the summer of 2015.
That, of course, coincided in North End’s promotion back to the Championship from League One after they thrashed Swindon Town 4-0 at Wembley in the play-off final.
Over the last six years, Gallagher has become a firm fans’ favourite and he would certainly be revered further still if he could lead the club to the promised land.
This season could well be the one that finally sees North End end their exile from the top flight – having last played at English football’s top table in 1961.
And the former Scotland international admits it would be a dream come true.
“That is the one thing I have always said,” said Gallagher, who has played in the Premier League early in his career for Blackburn Rovers.
“I would love to get this club to the Premier League before I leave. I know I can’t do that myself but I would love to be part of a squad which achieves that.
“Coming to the club when we were in League One – we probably had the strongest squad if you look at the players we had. I know we ended up going up via the play-offs but we really should have won that division, but we got up.
“As soon as we came up, we were comfortable in the Championship. We finished 11th and seventh twice – just missing out on the play-offs – and this season we have gone again. So for me to go that one step further – it would be the ultimate.”
Gallagher was brought to North End by previous boss Simon Grayson and his good work has been continued by present manager Alex Neil.
“They are totally different,” he said. “Simon was more laid back. I think the gaffer here has got more chilled the longer he’s been here.
“When he came he was intense, but I like that. Different managers have different styles. Under Simon we were more of a counter-attacking team which soaked a bit of pressure up and hit teams on the counter with players like Callum Robinson and Aiden McGeady.
“We have gone full circle under the manager. We are high pressing, try to win the ball higher up the pitch and create more chances. I have enjoyed playing under both.”