There are few players who can hope to have as big an impact on one fanbase like Louis Moult has managed with Motherwell.
On the lookout for his next club after leaving Preston North End, it’s been a testing time for the striker. He has not played competitively since a knee injury in August 2019 against Swansea City, ironically returning to the Preston squad for the first time since that match away to the same opponents before the English Championship season ended.
Moult is looking for somewhere new to call home and the Motherwell hero has told NTOF all about his Preston spell, joining them from the Fir Park club in December 2017: “It’s been a frustrating 18 months with injury and even before that, I didn’t get the games I felt that I deserved and the game time that I wanted.
“I think for myself and for my career, it was the right move to leave. Sometimes you’ve just got to move on and go and try to enjoy your football somewhere else. I think that’s where I’m at really. A lot of people said to me, ‘what a coincidence he’s back at Swansea City,’ but I thought it was a bit of a blessing more than anything else.
“I am looking forward now and thinking positively. Sometimes it’s better to start anew and that’s where I was at when I spoke to Preston. I remember sitting down with the gaffer at the time, Alex Neil. I didn’t feel I had a fair run in the team, whether that was through selection, injury or performances.
“I think I only played three games on the bounce once in my whole three-and-a-half years there. I was flabbergasted when I heard that. I needed a run of 10 games. There were times I was ready to do that but the manager rotated. I didn’t sulk. I think I scored a fair amount of goals in comparison to the minutes I played and that’s all you can do.
“There were times where a wide player would play up front and I always thought ‘I’m ready, give me a run of 10 games and I’ll score.’ But I have no bad blood, Preston treated me very well. I’m really thankful for the time I had at Preston. There were some good times, for sure. It’s gone now, so I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career.”
It’s been a long road to this point for Moult. Having been released by Stoke City as a youngster, he worked his way through part-time non-league football to get to Wrexham, shining in Wales before Motherwell handed him a Scottish Premiership chance in 2015. The Fir Park club even paid a fee for him, something that Moult recalls with fondness.
Now off the back of a three-and-a-half-year deal at Preston, he’s got his family set off the park: “If I rewind to when I was leaving Motherwell, that was the decision I had to make for my family, and that’s what I did. I was 25 then and in a football career, the majority retire at 35.
“You have to make a decision for your wife and kids to try and set us up for after football. That’s what you have to do, set your family up, and that’s what I have tried to do. It was massively rewarding in that respect.
“I am very lucky I have my wife and kids to take my mind off stuff. When I was up in Scotland, they came up with me. My daughter was born in Wishaw Hospital.”
50 goals in 98 appearances at Motherwell alongside 16 assists cements the 29-year-old’s place as one of the most-loved players to have worn claret and amber in recent years. Spectacular lobs against Celtic and most famously Rangers in the 2017 League Cup semi-final wrote Moult’s name into ‘Well folklore, his connection to the fans undeniable.
So much so that when Moult initially signed for Preston, several Motherwell fans traveled to Deepdale to get a glimpse of their hero. Moult will always be thankful for the Fir Park club.
Reminiscing on signing for Motherwell six years ago this summer, he said: “It’s gone so quick. I remember it like yesterday, it was a massive moment in my career. It was a bit of the unknown to be fair. As a family, we just went for it. And how rewarding it was. I have massive respect for Motherwell as a place and as a football club.
“People were just so nice to us. Great memories. Them paying a fee for me was a massive confidence boost. It wasn’t a great amount of money but for Motherwell to show that intent was a huge honour. I just wanted to repay them for showing that trust in me. I would like to think they got their money back!
“It was incredible to be fair, I wasn’t expecting it when they came down. All the Preston lads were wondering why they were all here for me and wondering what I’d done to them! That’s what the Motherwell fans were like to me, they were unbelievably supportive and I thrived off it.
“I scored the amount of goals because I did because I was enjoying my life off the pitch. But on the pitch, the fans were giving me that confidence and along with other stuff, that’s why it was so successful for me. Them getting down to Preston to watch me was a massive confidence boost. I felt sorry for them as they sometimes came down and I never got on the park!
“The lob against Celtic at Fir Park was one of my favourites, Stephen McManus hitting the diagonal and the first time it bounces is when it hits the net. Then the one in the League Cup semi-final against Rangers, I have tried things like that throughout my career. You can’t replicate these moments and that’s what I’ve missed these 18 months.”
Ian Baraclough brought Moult to Motherwell but it was another former ‘Well manager in Stephen Robinson that the striker really thrived under: “I loved playing for Stephen Robinson as he knew what I needed.
“He knew when I needed a hand on my shoulder, and when I needed a rocket! He also knew how my game worked, how to get the best out of me and how to get me scoring goals. When I first signed he was assistant manager.
“He went that extra mile for you. You don’t always get that. Some football clubs will put a session on, and it will be brilliant, but would you get any attention to detail? Robbo did that for me and other players. I still speak with him and I hope he gets sorted soon.”
Looking ahead to the future, Moult is excited with new options ahead of him following time at Preston. There are offers north and south of the border: “It’s an exciting time. I have left Preston now and I am very thankful for my time there but it’s a new chapter.
“It’s early days but I have had interest from the Scottish Premiership and here in England. Now it’s up to deciding what’s best for my family and I am open to ideas. I’m just weighing up my options. On a personal note, I want to go to a club where I will enjoy my football and will get the minutes I deserve.”
Motherwell fans just about blew up his Twitter mentions when news of his Preston exit was announced, eager for a Fir Park reunion. Motherwell manager Graham Alexander heightened things by commenting on the striker’s situation, a player he is aware of and not one he has ruled out of signing.
And on a return to Motherwell, Moult explained: “I am open to discussions and I am not ruling anything out at this point. I am really excited about what the future holds, so let’s see where we go. It’ll be an interesting 4-6 weeks. The enjoyment side of it will be a big factor in my decision.
“I want to be somewhere I enjoy my football, it’s a massive thing for me. I am pretty flexible with where I will be playing. My kids and wife are settled but never say never. If it is Scotland, we will address that. But all the happy memories are very fresh in my mind.”
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