Thorsten Stuckmann reflects on his time at Preston North End and thinks he might have left too soon
Former Preston North End goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann admits that in hindsight, he should not have left Deepdale five years ago.
Stuckmann spent more than three-and-a-half years with PNE, winning the player of the year award in 2011/12 and making 77 appearances.
The big German moved on in June 2015, shortly after North End's promotion to the Championship after winning the League One play-off final at Wembley.
He joined Doncaster Rovers but after a regular run in their first-team in the 2015/16 season, had his contract terminated.
Stuckmann went on to have spells with Partick Thistle and Chesterfield, before returning to German football to play for Fortuna Dusseldorf.
A bicep injury forced him to retire from playing last year and the 39-year-old now works for the German players association and does some television co-commentary.
Stuckmann told the Lancashire Post: "I had a few adventures at Preston, I really enjoyed it and my family enjoyed it.
"Probably I should have stayed but I took the opportunity to play at Doncaster and be their No.1. At Preston I would have been the No.2 keeper.
"It was a personal decision, I'm fine with it. I can look back on having a really good time at Preston and making a lot of friends.
"I'm looking forward to coming back over to watch a game when that is allowed.
"I first signed a contract for Preston in November 2011 and stayed for nearly four years.
"Helping get Preston back to the Championship was the target and we did that. I think one day they will get to the Premier League."
In the 2014/15 season when PNE got promoted, Stuckmann made 18 appearances - seven of them in the league.
He started the campaign as back-up to Jamie Jones before displacing him in the first-team in November 2014.
Two months later, North End signed Sam Johnstone on loan from Manchester United and Johnstone got the gloves for League One games, including the play-offs.
Stuckmann played in the FA Cup, Johnstone having been cup-tied after playing in the competition for Doncaster while on loan there.
The German's last appearance on the pitch in the PNE keeper's jersey was against Manchester United in the cup, controversially adjudged to have fouled Wayne Rooney for United's third goal from the penalty spot.
He was on the bench for Preston's play-off win over Swindon, the anniversary of which falls on Sunday.
"Time goes quickly, Wembley was five years ago this weekend," said Stuckmann.
"What a day that was, although three weeks before at Colchester was a bad day.
"Maybe we were too confident going into the Colchester game and just assumed we would win.
"Thankfully Simon Grayson got us organised for the play-offs."
Now living near Cologne, Stuckmann has been home-working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the coming weeks though, there could be the opportunity for him to be in the television studio commentating on Bundesliga matches.
Stuckmann said: "I didn't have a game last weekend when the Bundesliga started but there might be an opportunity over the next few weeks.
"I've done a few games before as a pundit, there are a few English-speaking players and American lads who they use for the games which are shown outside of Germany.
"They must presume my English is good enough!
"When I've done matches as a co-commentator I don't get to find out which countries it goes to.
"But someone told me they'd heard me in America and on television in England too."