Elias Kachunga was ready to turn his back on English football after a nightmare at Sheffield Wednesday – but his first month at Wanderers has convinced him he made the right decision to stay.
After leaving Hillsborough at the start of the summer the 29-year-old striker looked set for a return to Germany before Wanderers’ technical performance director Chris Markham dropped him a line to ask about dropping down to League One.
Kachunga weighed up his options for several weeks but after being convinced that Bolton would be looking to push for promotion, he signed a two-year deal at the start of August.
Since then, the German-born, DR Congo international has made a positive start with two assists and has also been given his own song by the Wanderers fans.
“Before I was in Yorkshire – but now I am really enjoying a little bit of Lancashire,” Kachunga told The Bolton News. “I had a few good years in England and, for me, I had to take some time to really think about my next step.
“I had some offers from Germany and from some different countries too but I had really good talks with the gaffer and with Chris, who I knew from Huddersfield, and the way they explained to me their vision for this club and everything around it, it gave me that good feeling to say ‘yes, this is where I want to stay’.
“I want to help this club get back into the Championship, first of all, and so far I think I made the right decision.”
Kachunga had started in English football with Huddersfield Town, helping them into the Premier League in 2017 and playing 44 times in the top-flight.
He left in 2020 for a single season with Wednesday which proved an unhappy time in his career.
The Owls, saddled by a six-point deduction for breaching EFL rules on spending and with perpetual boardroom and managerial issues, dropped into the third tier for the first time in nine years.
His record of just one goal in 27 games summed up a bleak campaign but Kachunga is keen to leave the past in the past.
“I think everyone on the outside could see it was difficult for everyone, for us as players,” he said.
“They are things that happen in football, I don’t want to look back so much.
“It was an experience for me and I was learning a lot there. I can’t say anything bad about the supporters because I didn’t really get to play in front of them, unfortunately.
“I wish them all the best for the future, except for when we play them later this year, then I hope we get the three points.”
Dropping down to League One was a decision Kachunga did not take lightly either but talks with Ian Evatt and Markham helped ease his concerns.
“As a player you do think about that – should you wait for the right offer? Could you stay in the Championship? And there were talks,” he said.
“But this club gave me such a good feeling – the gaffer and Chris – that I wanted to come to a new league. I felt like this was the right thing for me now.
“I spoke a lot with my friends and my parents as well before making the decision and so far I am enjoying it, and looking forward to playing here.”
A handful of appearances into his Bolton career, including a first home start against Port Vale in the Papa John’s Trophy, and Kachunga is impressed by the standard in the division.
“The first games you can see that teams are respecting us and the way we play,” he said.
“We are dominant on the ball, so teams are dropping straight away into the lower block.
“In some games you just have to find the right decision to play against these teams. But I think you can also see there is quality too.
“There are a lot of big clubs in this league, you could say this year that it is like a little Championship because there are so many traditional clubs who are pushing for the chance to go back.
“I am really looking forward to playing here.”