MICHAEL Kightly admits to have surprised even himself by heading back to Southend United - but he cannot wait to start his second spell with the Shrimpers.

Kightly attracted interest from clubs in the Championship and America.

But it was a sense of unfinished business which saw him secure a Roots Hall return.

“I never thought I would come back to Southend if I’m honest but I’m really glad it’s happened,” said the former Chalvedon School pupil.

“I would go and watch Southend play with my mates when I was a kid and I was gutted when I got let go.

“I’ve gone on to have a half decent career since then but I’ve still never had the chance to show I have what it takes to play for Southend and because of that I feel as though I have unfinished business here.

“Because of that Southend are the only team in League One I would have signed for and I’m buzzing to back.

“It does feel slightly strange but I feel as though I’ve come back home and I can’t wait to get started now.”

Kightly’s first spell with the Shrimpers came when he joined as a youth team scholar in December 2002.

But, after working his way through the ranks and making 19 first appearances, he was released by then Blues boss Steve Tilson in the summer of 2005.

However, after shining during a successful stint with Grays Athletic in the Conference, Kightly resurrected his career by joining Wolverhampton Wanderers and helping them win promotion to the Premier League.

The winger also played in the top flight for both Stoke City and Burnley but he remains as ambitious as ever to succeed.

“Everyone plays football to win things and I’m no different so that’s what I want to do with Southend, I want to play my part in the club winning promotion,” said Kightly.

“It was during my conversation with (chairman) Ron Martin that I really started to consider coming back to Southend.

“I was impressed and excited by what he had to say and also his ambition.

“The manager was also really good when I spoke to him and, despite the other offers I have, it made sense to pick Southend especially when you look at the players in the squad.”

“But I’m determined to repay the faith that’s been shown in me.”

And Kightly will not need much time to settle into his new surroundings.

“I’m based in Birmingham nowadays but I still have a lot of good friends in this area and my brother is here too,” said Kightly.

“It’s nice to be back and it’s already bringing back a lot of nice memories.

“On my way to the ground the other day I drove past the fish and chip shop round the corner that I used to go to every week with the youth team before the first team would play..

“It was great to see but I doubt I’ll be able to go back there now!”


MICHAEL Kightly has revealed he rejected a switch to the MLS to sign for Southend United.

The winger held extensive talks with an American side, believed to be Colorado Rapids and had even booked a flight on Friday to complete the deal.

However, the Shrimpers’ intervention eventually led to him returning to Roots Hall.

“This has been the hardest decision of my whole career and at one stage I had made up my mind to go to the MLS,” confirmed Kightly.

“I slept on it on Tuesday and was all set to go out to America before I spoke to Ron (Martin) on Wednesday and he just said all the right things.

“I was excited by what he had to say and the ambition of the club.

“We all play football to win things and it would be really special for me to do that with Southend because of my connections to the club.”

Kightly will train with Blues for the first time this morning and is relieved to have finally sorted his future.

“It’s been a stressful time for me not really knowing what was going to happen and where I would be playing after leaving Burnley,” said the former Grays Athletic wide-man.

“But I’ve made my decision so I’ll be looking forward not back and now I’ve made up my mind I’m hoping I might also be able to sleep as well!”


MICHAEL Kightly left Blues in the summer of 2005 after scoring once in 19 appearances.

The winger rejuvenated his career during a successful spell in the Conference with Grays before joining Championship club Wolves towards the end of 2006.

Kightly’s debut for his new club came against Blues at Roots Hall before his fine form helped Wolves win promotion into the Premier League and also saw him line up for England under 21s.

The 31-year-old bounced back from a prolonged period on the sidelines to join Stoke in 2012 and scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford before signing for Burnley who he also helped win promotion from the Championship.

Kightly ended last season on loan at Burton scoring four goals in 12 games.