Bennett is released by Bolton - but loved his time in Scotland

29-04-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Westfield Lounge. Falkirk FC fashion show and strip launch. Rhys Bennett.
29-04-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. Westfield Lounge. Falkirk FC fashion show and strip launch. Rhys Bennett.
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Rhys Bennett was released by Bolton Wanderers last week.

And if his farewell to Falkirk was anything to go by, don’t be surprised to see him back in Scotland soon.

Steven Pressley is unlikely to make a move, having identified other defensive targets, but the defender raved about his time with Falkirk as he made his way back to his parent club after growing up and maturing in Scotland.

After 25 appearances, the former Trotters’ reserve team captain left The Falkirk Stadium smiling at the end of his loan spell.

“Scotland has a nice and friendly atmosphere.

“The people are friendly and I’m grateful for that, England isn’t the same. The people here are more forthcoming, more polite and generally friendlier, and I’ve appreciated that.

“I feel at home. The people have treated me so nice - who wouldn’t want to come back to a place where people treat you nice?”

The Falkirk fans have played a key role in Bennett’s enjoyment of his surroundings for season 2011/12 - but so have the players, particularly close pal Farid El Alagui.

“Farid’s a close friend, Doddsy and Scobbie have been great too.

“Ever since I arrived, the fans were brilliant, I don’t know what it is. I just tried to give them 100 percent every time. Everyone appreciates that whether you’re from Scotland, Scandinavia or South America.

“I just hope when I leave they remember me and remember my name as someone who gave commitment from my time.

“I enjoyed when I did play - I’d have liked to have played more but that’s not my decision, I just did my best whenever I could get the chance, and I enjoyed it.

“I hope the people and the Falkirk fans enjoyed watching me play and Falkirk as a team.

“But I love playing football, it’s what makes me happy. I enjoyed my time, definitely.”

But though Scotland feels like home now, and he’d welcome a return depending what the future holds, there were some tough times.

He opened his heart to The Falkirk Herald in March after learning of team-mate Fabrice Muamba’s collapse on the pitch while playing for Bolton.

And as his time at Falkirk drew to a close, his grandfather died back home.

“My grandfather died at the end of the season - just before the game with Partick and it was hard being away, and not being there with them.

“But I’m away from them for a reason - and that’s to play football.

“It was the first time I was away from home in my life and it was hard, but I learned to deal with it.”

It has had benefits as he now plays the transfer market with a season of first team football under his belt as well as a grounding in the Premiership behind him.

“I’m a lot different from the person who came here from Bolton in July.

“Mentally, on the pitch and off it, I’ve grown up and I’m a lot more mature as a person and as a player.

“I got stronger physically, mentally and technically at Falkirk and learned more from it than I would have in the reserves at Bolton.

“I tried to get as much experience as I could, you get valuable experience in any first team game you’re involved in.

“It’s been a big learning curve. I’ve enjoyed playing my football - if I’m playing I’m happy - reserves or first team.

“And I can’t say I don’t feel at home in Scotland, in terms of my career, and my progression I’d like to see if I can cut it at the highest possible level, and biggest stage, and if that’s not the case, I’d love to return.

“Definitely.”