"I was in Martin O'Neill's office that often, I think I had my own chair with GC written on the back," he said. "I was trying to get some idea of what he was thinking.
"I was trying to work out where my career lay and get some vibes. He had gone out and bought a couple of players in my position. When that happens, the writing is on the wall. Until then, my career progression had gone perfectly.
"I'd signed for Villa, gone to Burnley on loan, played for England Under 19s, 20s, 21s. Then it was paused. Put on hold. He never said 'Go'.
"But, as a player, you know that if two players come in for big money and you cost nothing, then you are up against it. I don't care how you try to talk around it.
"It was the hardest decision I've had to make. You don't turn away from clubs like that without giving it a great deal of thought. It was a gamble coming to Bolton. But it's paying off."