Yann Kermorgant said winning the Championship with AFC Bournemouth at former club Charlton Athletic was “one of my best moments in football”.
Kermorgant played a major role as the Cherries clinched promotion to the Premier League by triumphing 3-0 at The Valley on the final day of the 2014/15 season.
The French striker was a hugely popular figure with supporters of both clubs and received a rousing reception when his name was read out ahead of kick-off.
Nicknamed ‘The beast from Brittany’ due to his powerful physic and aerial prowess, Kermorgant spent two years at Vitality Stadium and netted 15 times as Eddie Howe’s team reached the top flight.
Kermorgant, who joined the Cherries from Charlton in January 2014, recently announced his retirement and spoke to afcb.co.uk for the latest in our series of interviews for The Journey.
He said: “When I first signed for Bournemouth, I had to wait a few games to get my first start and scored a hat-trick on my full debut against Doncaster.
“I had a really good end to that season and my confidence was really high going into the following season. As a team, we had finished very strongly.
“I remember having a chat with some of the other players and saying I felt we could have a really good second year in the Championship providing we could keep everyone together.
“At the time, Lewis Grabban had been linked with Norwich and I tried to persuade him to stay because I felt we were on to something big.
“He decided to move and that was a big blow but we brought in Callum Wilson to replace him and he proved to be a great goalscorer. He was quick and strong and I thought he would do a great job for us.
“He scored twice in his first game away to Huddersfield and you could see he was going to be a great asset for us.
“We had quality throughout the squad and every player was ready to go. It was the first time I’d been in a squad where you could change one player for another and they would fit straight in and do well.
“We were good defensively, we played good football and created chances. It was a joy to play with such a great group of players.
“Apart from the previous season, most of them hadn’t had too much experience of the Championship but you could see everybody would improve.
“I’m not saying I thought we would win the league but maybe finish in the top six and have a go in the play-offs. I really felt we could push and mount a challenge.
“We had a great start to the season. Winning the first game 4-0 away from home was a dream. I always felt we had a good chance to make an impact and that first game showed that.”
Despite scoring twice in the first seven games, Kermorgant briefly lost his place after receiving a three-match ban for a sending off in a 2-1 win at Bolton at the start of October.
He was red carded for a high boot on Mark Davies nine minutes before half-time, Wilson’s double firing the 10 men to victory at the Reebok Stadium.
Kermorgant said: “There was a bit of tension in that game and some of the Bolton players had been trying to get me sent off.
“I tried to win the ball in the air and didn’t see their player coming. Although I managed to stop my movement, he fell to the floor like a good actor because I didn’t hurt him.
“I felt he was feigning injury and was really upset because I didn’t mean to touch him. I tried to avoid him and caught him with my hip but it was nothing dangerous.
“It was a big blow for me because I was in rich vein of form and so was the team. I was concerned we would lose the game because of my red card so was very pleased we won.”
Kermorgant netted some stunning goals during the campaign, notably an acrobatic bicycle kick in a 2-2 draw against Ipswich and a free-kick in a 2-0 win at Brighton.
“I had mixed emotions about the Ipswich game,” he said. “I was really happy to score a great goal but was fuming because we drew. For me, it was a big blow to drop two points.
“We wanted to win every game, especially at home, so drawing with Ipswich was a bitter disappointment.
“When we went to Brighton towards the end of the season, we were starting to feel big pressure.
“We won a free-kick and maybe it would have been more suited to a left-footed player. But I wanted to take it and Matty Ritchie backed me to score. He gave me confidence and kept telling me I was going to score.
“When I scored, he jumped all over me and pulled me to the floor. It was a big goal in a big game. Callum got the second and it was a big result in that season.
“We dropped more points at home to Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-2 draw and, again, I was fuming. We needed to stay strong and couldn’t afford to be drawing home games.
“We could have lost our nerve and blown our chances of getting an automatic promotion place. But we did what we had to do against Bolton and Charlton.
“Going to The Valley and winning the title was one of my best moments in football.
“When I saw the fixtures at the start of the season, I thought it was unbelievable because it would be the perfect place to achieve something great. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be that great!
“At the time, we were as good as promoted after the win against Bolton so were under a little less pressure but we were still fighting for the title.
“I felt at home there and the reception I received was lovely. It was a great feeling. We played very well and showed why we deserved to win the title.
“In my two years at Bournemouth, I played with the best squad in my career. I was really impressed with the mentality of the players when I first arrived. Everybody wanted to improve and work hard and that came from the manager.
“My relationship with the fans was unbelievable. I will never forget the love they had for me.
"I would like to come back soon to watch a game. I have great memories of my time there.”