DARREN Pratley insisted he could not celebrate scoring for Bolton against Swansea City on Saturday — because he still has so much love for his former club.
Pratley headed past Gerhard Tremmel in first-half stoppage time to cancel out a goal from Luke Moore which had arrived just minutes earlier.
The midfielder had been jeered by away supporters after he ended a five-year stay in South Wales to move to the Trotters last summer.
But the 26-year-old refused to milk his moment, instead raising a hand of apology after finding the back of the net.
"It is only a small minority of the fans — when I went back to the Liberty I had a good reception," said Pratley.
"When I scored I didn't react because I've got a lot of love for Swansea.
"I said sorry because I was there for five years, I enjoyed my time there so I wish the club well. I have nothing against the club.
"I loved living there, I enjoyed being in Swansea so that's why I sort of apologised."
Pratley was signed by Kenny Jackett from Fulham for £100,000 in the summer of 2006.
He went on to make more than 170 appearances for the club, scoring 35 goals.
"I didn't know I was going to be playing let alone score, but I knew I would never celebrate against Swansea if I scored," said the Barking-born player.
"I was getting stick and chants of 'you only went for the money' but I was never going to celebrate.
"It's part and parcel of the game.
"I had a bit of stick when I first came to Swansea for keeping the ball and going sideways. Now that's a big part of how Swansea play.
"But I've got nothing bad to say about the club."
Pratley left Swansea for nothing when his contract expired after talks over a new deal stalled.
He played his part in Swansea's rise to the Premier League, helping them to the League One title before scoring Swansea's third goal against Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-off semi-final to seal a place at Wembley.
"I look back and I had a good five years in which I won two promotions," he said.
"Whenever I think of Swansea, I think of good times.
"I enjoy my football in Bolton, I've started five or six games here and in the games I have started, in about half of them we've had a man sent off.
"Now we've changed the formation to three in midfield which I think will suit me a little better.
"I'll carry on working hard and when the manager wants me I'll be as ready as I can be."
It was the second time Pratley had faced Swansea for Bolton.
The first was back in October when Brendan Rodgers's side won 3-1 at the Liberty and he fouled Angel Rangel to concede a penalty.
"Angel dived for that one," joked Pratley.
"It was nice to score my first goal for Bolton, it's a bit ironic that it's against Swansea, but I'm glad we won the game."
Picture: Huw Evans