Sean St Ledger left in tears after Preston North End exit
Sean St Ledger spent an eventful five years as a Preston North End player, making 200 appearances for the Lilywhites. He spoke to the Lancashire Post about his time in a PNE shirt, and in today’s final article explains his pain at calling time on his Deepdale career.
Sean St Ledger admits it was an emotional time when he came to leave Deepdale and head on loan to Middlesbrough in September 2009.
The Republic of Ireland international was a key member of the PNE squad before making his move to the North East.
“I didn’t expect it to be emotional,” he said.
“Boro had a bit of interest in me. Their manager was Gareth Southgate – I was a Villa fan and he was a defender.
“I didn’t want to leave but I ended up doing.
“When I told the Preston manager Alan Irvine before a game against Scunthorpe on the Monday night, I was crying.
“In hindsight you think if you’re that emotional and a bit upset then it’s probably not the right thing to do, but I did it.
“I think that’s why I had no hesitation coming back from my loan at Middlesbrough. I loved the club, I loved playing for the manager, I loved playing with the lads as much as I did.”
St Ledger’s loan was meant to turn into a permanent move but he cut the loan short and came back to PNE three months later.
He was to eventually leave Deepdale in July 2011, signing for Leicester City.
Then in 2015 he looked further afield for his next club.
St Ledger went to the United States to join a club that was still in its infancy, Orlando City, but were not without a star name – Brazil’s Kaka was there.
“It was superb,” said St Ledger. “The American interest had come around when I was at Leicester – there was a period where I wasn’t playing too much and DC United got in touch.
“One way or another that didn’t materialise.
“When I was out of contract we were playing Orlando and they had an English manager in Adrian Heath and then I ended up playing there.
“It was an unbelievable experience, being able to wake up with blue skies every morning, training in the heat, training with Kaka.
“It was really funny, at an auction at Preston one night, I bought one of his AC Milan jerseys that he’d signed.
“Then a few weeks later I was showing him a picture to make sure it wasn’t a fake! He told me it was real so I was so happy. Just to be able to talk football with him and about some of his achievements was unbelievable.
“I have to say that the way Kaka conducted himself was brilliant, because I’m sure you could get frustrated playing with players like me, having played with David Beckham and Clarence Seedorf.
“Then you’re playing with players that have come out of college and it’s not the same. His professionalism when he was around everyone was brilliant, he was always encouraging and positive.
“You were able to see why he was at the top of the game.
“I remember he was always the first one at the training ground doing core sessions before training, he had that dedication and professionalism.
“You almost got an insight into why he won the Ballon d’Or. Okay, he had that exceptional mental gift, but he also worked at it.
“Playing in America, being able to get to see all the different stadiums, it was a different atmosphere, it was a bit more friendly than it was in England.
“In America there were some really athletic players there so it was maybe a case of adapting your game.”
“I have to say, what they’re doing with the MLS at the moment and how they’re trying to make it grow is superb.”