Chris Powell was clearly emotional at the reception he received from a packed Valley as he made a return to Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon.
The former England international, who earned five caps between 2001 and 2002, made over 250 appearances for the Addicks during three spells. The majority of these outings came during a six-year spell from 1998 to 2004, and he returned in 2005-06 after a stint with West Ham United, and then again in 2007-08 after he spent a season in the top-flight with Watford.
Powell hung up his boots in 2010 after a two-year spell with Leicester City, and in the January of the following year he returned to Charlton as manager, and in his first full campaign in charge, he led them to the League One title. They continued to progress in the Championship, narrowly missing out on the playoffs, but he was sacked last March as they hit the bottom of the table.
The 45-year-old was out of work for just under six months, with Huddersfield Town turning to him when they dismissed Mark Robins earlier this season. Powell, whose side look set to finish in or around the mid-table position, made his first return to the Valley since being sacked on Saturday afternoon, and he was clearly touched by the reception he received from a 25,545 crowd.
“My relationship with Charlton supporters and the way they are, I wouldn’t think anything less of them,” he said. “It was beyond what any supporters would do to the opposition manager. But I’m not surprised with how they were. It was very touching and emotional for me but I’m quite embarrassed as well. But it was a great moment for me in my long career and it’s something that I won’t forget.”
It wasn’t such a memorable occasion on the pitch, or at least not for good reasons, for Powell as Huddersfield fell to a 3-0 defeat, which allowed Charlton to overtake them in the standings. The Terriers manager added: “We were second best. We were beaten by the better team and we just couldn’t get going over the course of the game. We didn’t deserve anything.”