Greg Stewart has revealed he discussed a sensational summer return to Dundee over text messages with Dens boss James McPake.
However, his desire to move abroad and test himself beyond these borders meant that the deal was a non-starter – for now, anyway.
The fans favourite admitted in an exclusive interview with the Courier that he’d love to play once more for the Dark Blues “if the time is right”.
The 31-year-old made his first steps in full-time football with Dundee after leaving Championship side Cowdenbeath.
That move kickstarted a career that saw him signed by Birmingham City in a £1 million deal before spending two years at boyhood club Rangers.
After celebrating the Gers’ first title in 10 years, Stewart was released at the end of last season.
And moving abroad was forefront in his mind.
That didn’t stop clubs closer to home making their interest known, however, with St Johnstone making a move and old team-mate McPake on the phone.
“I had a couple of phone calls with managers around the end of July, spoke to a couple of teams, but I was in two minds over going abroad, whether that was going to happen,” Stewart said.
“I spoke to James, too. We speak often, text back and forth whenever he’s thinking of signing a player I’ve played with and things like that.
“We did talk about maybe coming back but nothing ever came of it. I was still wanting to go abroad.
“Dundee will always have a big place in my heart, I loved it there.
“One day, you never know. If the time is right…
“I still check their scores and I was delighted to see them come up last season.
“I still know a few of the boys there – Gowser and Cammy Kerr are still there and I played with Adam Legzdins at Birmingham.”
Last month, Stewart signed a one-year deal with Indian Super League side Jamshedpur, managed by Owen Coyle.
The striker is currently enduring nine days of quarantine in India before getting stuck into pre-season training with his new club on Monday.
Due to coronavirus, the entirety of the 2021/22 season will take place in Goa with clubs placed in bubbles.
Greg Stewart is vibing with the 🔴🔵 combo on him!
— Jamshedpur FC (@JamshedpurFC) September 12, 2021
That means Stewart won’t be able to travel beyond the training complex housing the clubs, though it does have access to a Goa beach.
Getting through his enforced isolation has taken some willpower, not to mention a handy firestick and friends and family to face time.
He is keen, though, to get the ball back out again.
“It’s weird, I’ve never been this long without playing before,” he added – his last match was a 4-0 win over Aberdeen on May 15.
“It’s been really strange waiting this long but training starts on Monday and I can’t wait just to get a touch of the ball!
“Maybe not looking forward to the running, though…
“League rules mean I have to quarantine for nine days before doing anything so it’s been torture but it is what it is.
“It was tough to start with but I’ve been getting my head around it.
“I’ve not seen much of India so far, it’s just been airport then straight to the hotel and I’ve been in my room since.
“The only good thing is I have a balcony so I can be outside. I’ve been doing exercises out there every day so that’s been good.”
‘It was always in my head after leaving Rangers I wanted to try something different’
Jamshedpur, or the Men of Steel as their nickname goes, kick off the new season on November 21 against East Bengal.
And Stewart can’t wait to get out of his hotel room and into the action.
“I’m 31 and not getting any younger so I felt like if an opportunity came up to play abroad I’d take the chance and go for it,” he added.
“I actually had another move fall through at the last minute so I thought my chance was gone. But then this opportunity came and I can’t wait to get started.
“I’d played my entire career in Scotland and England so I just wanted to try a complete change of culture.
“It was always in my head after leaving Rangers I wanted to try something different.
“I felt like I just needed a complete change, get out of my comfort zone.
“It was always something I wanted to try.
“I’m over here without my family so it’s not easy being away from them. But I’m doing my best.
“It’s going to be a really different challenge mentally but I’m looking forward to it.”