Tomas Kalas has admitted that he found it hard to accept Fulham’s decision not to keep him at the club after he helped them gain promotion.
The 25-year-old Chelsea defender is now on a season-long loan at Bristol City, but played a major part in helping the Whites reach the Premier League last season.
The Czech Republic international formed a formidable centre-back partnership with Tim Ream, but was deemed surplus to requirements in the summer
“If they’d wanted me at Fulham, I would have stayed, but they didn’t,” he told West London Sport.
“It was difficult to swallow. But obviously that’s not the end of my career, and I’d rather get promoted with a team that wants me. It would be quite nice to settle down after eight years of being abroad, but not spending longer than two years at one place.
“I obviously wanted to stay there, because that would be a step forward in my career and I would have been in a club that I’ve spent two years with.
“But I wasn’t getting my hopes up too high because exactly the same thing happened with Middlesbrough two years before. We got promoted and I loved the club and nothing happened afterwards.
“I was so loyal to Fulham. They knew I wanted to stay and nothing happened. They spent, I don’t know how much money, on new defenders.”
And given the woeful consequences of a much-changed defensive line-up at the Cottage this season, that decision looks even more perplexing with Fulham having lost seven of their 10 league games so far.
“Fulham are not doing well, but nowhere is it written that if I had been there, they would be doing OK,” Kalas added.
“I can’t predict that or see what would have happened, so it would be a bit unfair. I still support them and hope they will get out of the situation that they’re in now.”
It is almost easy to forget Kalas is still technically a Chelsea player – although he accepts the four appearances he made for the Blues under Jose Mourinho in the 2013-14 season may never be repeated.
One of his two Premier League starts came in the 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield in which Demba Ba’s famous first-half goal helped de-rail the home side’s title hopes.
“I always wanted it [to play for Chelsea] but if I can see for myself the way it goes, or the way it went so far, and I’m not sure,” he said.
“But obviously when Chelsea come with a new contract, as they did a year and a half ago, it’s quite difficult to turn them down because you’re not playing just for fun, it’s your job and that’s the perfect opportunity to have some security.
“People may look at it and say ‘you signed for the money and could have gone somewhere for less money, where you could settle down’, but I don’t think you’d find a person who wouldn’t have done the same thing.
“They deserve loyalty from me and I’m thankful that they brought me into big-time football and obviously as long as it makes sense, I’ll keep loyal to them and keep faith that maybe one day I can become a first-team player – though obviously we have to be realistic and not live ‘in the sky.’
At least Chelsea are keeping tabs on the Czech, as he starts a new challenge in the West Country – following a path trodden so successfully not so long ago by Tammy Abraham, and which has also enticed fellow Blues player Jay Dasilva.
“A couple of days ago, Paulo Ferreira [technical coach at Chelsea] was here at the Hull game to find out how I’m settling down – bringing some analysis about the game, and trying to help me improve myself,” Kalas said.
“Obviously they’ve got so many players on loan, so it’s not easy to be in touch every single day or even every single week, because they have to go around the whole of Europe to see everyone. But at least they show we are not forgotten.”