Graham Alexander set for emotional return to Deepdale on Saturday

Preston North End

Graham Alexander will return to the site of his last ever professional game on Saturday as he takes his Fleetwood side to play Preston North End.

Graham Alexander will always be remembered fondly by the North End faithful and they will be looking forward to seeing him once more on Saturday even if it is as the manager of the opposition. 'Grezza' was at Preston North End for a total of nine seasons and was part of a very successful side who were often competing at the top end of the Championship.

Deepdale was the site where Alexander played his last ever professional game in May 2012. Coming on as an 84th minute substitute he was to mark his last ever game in the most extraordinary of fashions. PNE were awarded a free-kick in the last minute and Alexander duly stepped up to strike the ball home and send the North End fans into raptures.

It was a wonderful way to bow out and it was deserved for a great servant of the club. It will be emotional for the former Scotland international to return on Saturday but such is the toughness of the Fleetwood manager he won't be letting the occasion get the better of him.

Whilst he admitted there is a huge affiliation between himself and the club he will be focused on the job in hand. 

"I'm proud of my time at Preston, I really am. But I think what got me connected to that club, those supporters, was how competitive I was."

"When I went back there with Burnley I had no second thoughts about trying to beat Preston. That's what you have to be as a professional and that's what I'll be on Saturday.

"I'm going there, not for a round of applause, not for a little parade, I'm going there to help our team win a game; that's my only focus on Saturday."

Alexander won't be the only former Lilywhite returning to Deepdale on Saturday as Chris Lucketti, Barry Nicholson, and Youl Mawene are part of the backroom staff. Jamie Proctor and Northern Ireland international Conor McLaughlin are likely to line up for The Cod Army as well.

Preston fans will be glad to see some familiar faces from a happy era at the club, but will be hoping that North End can continue their impressive run which has seen them win their last six games.

Tomorrow will also be a emotional occasion for a far more important reason. Both clubs will mark the life of Melissa Smith who tragically lost her life last week whilst playing football for her local team, Cadley FC. Both sets of fans will stand for a minutes applause in the 15th minute to mark the age of Melissa.

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