Shaun Byrne has confessed he was falling out of love with football at Dundee.
But he is thrilled to have rediscovered his spark at Raith Rovers as he bids to help the Stark’s Park side go top of the SPFL Championship.
Byrne had been frozen out under Gary Bowyer at Dens Park and, with no improvement seeming likely under new manager Tony Docherty, was keen for a change of scene.
The 30-year-old has found the ideal home at Stark’s Park and has been vital to Rovers’ stunning early-season success.
He said: “Last season was really tough for me and I kind of fell out of love with football.
“I thought I would have got more of a chance this season when I went back but the manager at Dundee said I wasn’t going to be guaranteed games, so I needed to look after myself because I come out of contract at the end of this season.
“I needed to go and show people what I can do and, thankfully, I’ve been able to come and help Raith Rovers, and I’m really enjoying it.
“Last season was tough, mentally as well. You’re training Monday to Saturday and you’re not getting rewards.
“It affects your whole mood, I would say, in terms of your home life and family and stuff.
“I knew that if I was going to go back to Dundee and not play that I was going to try to push to get away, because I couldn’t do that again.
“I’ve loved it at Raith. I knew before I came here that we had a lot of really good football players, and I knew I was going to suit the way they played.
“I knew I could help make the team better as well, and I’m loving it.”
Raith manager Ian Murray has confessed Byrne’s future at Raith is up in the air given Dundee’s January recall option.
And the player himself admits he is in the dark as he prepares to enter the final six months of his contract with the Dark Blues.
The former Livingston and Dunfermline midfielder added: “I spoke to Tony Docherty in the lead up to the Dunfermline game in the Scottish Cup and he just told me I wasn’t able to play in that game.
“He said there would be discussions in December about what’s going on.
“So I’m in the same boat as everyone else, I’ve not got a clue what’s going to happen in January.
“It’s out of my control, I’ve got to do what I’m told.”
‘Confidence and momentum’
Having dug out a remarkable injury-time win away to Inverness Caley Thistle last weekend, Raith will go top of the table with a win at home to Partick Thistle on Friday night.
A victory would ramp up the pressure on league leaders Dundee United ahead of their own meeting with Ayr United on Saturday.
Byrne said: “When I came here, I knew there were a lot of good players. But just when you’re winning games you gain confidence and momentum.
“We just need to keep it going. In this league it’s crazy, you could go and lose two or three games in a row and you could be back in third or fourth.
“Partick are one of the better teams in the league as well, so they’ll be coming here confident.
“They’re on a good run, but so are we and hopefully we can get the job done again.”