CROSSFLATTS Village FC legend Lee Bailey has announced that he is on the comeback trail.

The 40-year-old midfielder retired 11 months ago, after a spate of injuries that resulted in him falling out of love with the game.

But some lifestyle changes, intense physiotherapy sessions, a kind message from a fan and the coronavirus situation have all influenced him into reversing his retirement decision.

A reflective Bailey, who is affectionately known as 'The General' and 'The White Feather' said: “Retirement hit me very hard last year.

“I let myself go both mentally and physically and I set my stall out this year to get back into shape, but I didn’t really think about playing again, although I have missed it.

“I made a New Year’s resolution to lose a bit of weight and improve my diet and embrace different things.

“I have taken up yoga, meditation and hypnosis - and all these activities have helped me improve my well-being. These modern activities have really put some spring in my step and broadened my horizons.

“I have also improved my diet dramatically and I am probably in the best shape of my life.

“My wife Stephanie has been a great help. She’s kept me on the straight and narrow when I have looked to go back to my old ways. She's been my rock and I couldn't have done it without her.

“I have also got a personal trainer on board now, just to help me with my stiff joints, and I have had several physiotherapy sessions.

“My physio has cleared all my injuries up and he said that there was no reason why I shouldn’t be able to play again, but I didn’t really think much about it.”

Bailey said that the first turning point in reversing last May's retirement decision was when he went for his daily stroll earlier this month.

He said: “It was a nice afternoon and I was just stretching my legs. I was walking past our ground, so I just thought I'd have a quick run up and down the touchline and I got the buzz back straight away.

“It was like old times. I then went on to the middle of the pitch, where I have made things happen, and all those good memories came flooding back.

“When I got home, I told the wife and she told me to give playing another go because life was too short, but I dismissed the idea.

“A few hours later, I got a text message from David Hall, who is one of our biggest supporters.

“He said he had spotted me running up and down the pitch and said it brought back good memories for him. He told me how much he's missed watching me play and that meant so much to me.”

Days later, Bailey went on to the Crossflatts Village Facebook page to announce his comeback officially.

The news has been well received by the fans, especially former defender and lifelong supporter Ben Hinchcliffe.

A delighted Hinchcliffe said: “There’s not a lot of good news out there at the moment but this has given the community a real boost.”

With the lockdown fully in force, no-one knows when Bailey will be able to add to the 200 appearances and 63 goals that he has racked up for the club.

But he has suggested that he could be fully fit within a month, saying: “I think I am three or four weeks away from being 100 per cent match fit.

“I am doing lots of treadmill work at home and I’m doing some light ball control skills in the garden.”

One final reason for Bailey’s return is because he wants to be Crossflatts' oldest player. That honour is currently held by midfielder Ronnie Cartwright, who is still plying his trade for the club at the age of 51.

Bailey said: “Me and Ronnie first played together about 20 years ago.

“The man is a legend and I’d love to surpass him as the club’s oldest player, but I have to do it in baby steps. My first aim is to get back in the starting line-up.

“The whole coronavirus situation has made me realise that life is too short and I don't want to look back in 20 years and regret not playing on a bit longer.”