Michail Antonio has promised not to celebrate if he scores against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.
The Nottingham Forest forward, who moved to the City Ground for around £1.5m earlier this month, makes a quick return to Hillsborough, with his current employers hoping to dent Wednesday’s positive start to the season.
The speedy Londoner, an influential figure in the Owls’ 2012 promotion winning team after initially arriving on a temporary basis from Reading, played 83 times for the South Yorkshire club, hitting 18 goals.
And, speaking to The Star, Antonio claims he has too much respect for Wednesday to celebrate, should he get on the scoresheet.
“I would never do that to my Wednesday family,” he said.
“Wednesday gave me a base to work from, and I didn’t celebrate when I scored for Wednesday against Reading last season. I thank them both for where I am right now.”
The 24-year-old still looks out for Wednesday’s results and is keeping his fingers crossed he will get a good reception. “I hope I will because I gave the club 100 per cent when I was there,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens.
“I had some unbelievable highs at Wednesday. I always remember the promotion season, when United were far ahead of us. The only thing we could do was keep on winning our games.
“I will never forget the Carlisle game where I got the winner in the 95th minute. We jumped ahead of United in the league, managed to hold them off and get promoted.
“Everyone thought we were going down last season but we managed to pull it back in the second half of the season and stay up, finishing comfortably mid-table.
“I enjoyed every minute of my Wednesday life. I am always going to have a soft spot for them, because it’s the first club I had been at where I felt a part of things.
“I’m still looking out for their results, and they are on fire right now. They are sixth in the league and six unbeaten, so they’ve done unbelievably well.
“My time at Wednesday came to an end but, you never know, I might be back in a blue and whirt shirt later on in life. Football is unpredictable. You never know what will happen.”
Antonio, who began his career with non-league Tooting and Mitcham, is looking forward to his Wednesday reunion but admits it will be a “strange feeling” walking into the away dressing room. “It was a very tough decision to leave Wednesday,” he said.
“They were the first club where I felt settled. My family was there and everything was very comfortable for me so that’s why I was enjoying it so much.
“But you have to test yourself in football. It is one of those things where you can’t be too settled. For the last three to four years, Forest have been in and around the play-offs and trying to get into the Premier League.
“Every footballer wants to play in the Premier League and I’m no different.
“We are top of the league and hopefully we can stay there.”
The winger was taken off in the first half of Forest’s cup triumph at Huddersfield Town in midweek after suffering a groin problem. Antonio revealed: “We are going to keep checking up on it this week and hopefully I will be alright for Saturday.
“I would be gutted to miss any game, but particularly my first return to Hillsborough. I want to be part of that.”
Antonio, who scored twice in pre-season for Wednesday, has found the back of the net on four occasions since joining Forest, including a goal on his debut versus Blackpool. “I’ve started quite well,” he added.
“As soon as I came in, everybody introduced themselves to me and made me feel comfortable. That’s probably why I have settled in quickly.
“I’m over the moon with how I’ve played. When a new player joins a club, you dream of scoring on your debut. Every player wants to start off well, as there is so much pressure, and I’ve been lucky enough to do that.”
Wednesday will leapfrog Forest and go top of the Championship, for at least a couple of hours, on Saturday afternoon if they win. Antonio said: “I’m not surprised at all at how they have started. Over pre-season when I was with the team, they looked sharp. Everyone looked fresh and had done their work over the summer. Nobody came back unfit.
“Everyone gets on with each other. There are no cliques in the group. Everyone enjoys each other’s company. You can go to anyone in the squad and have a chat or banter with them. That’s why they are doing so well; everyone supports each other.
“The spirit is down to the manager [Stuart Gray] who pushes you together and makes everyone bond.
“You don’t get that at every club and, if they keep their main players fit such as Chris Maguire, Atdhe Nuhiu and Jacques Maghoma, anything is possible. All they have to do is keep pushing and try and get as high as possible up the league.”