JAMES Constable admits he would love a return to Oxford United – and says the warm messages from the club’s supporters have helped him look to the future with confidence.

The 34-year-old announced on Monday he was stepping down from full-time football after 13 years as a professional.

While he intends to keep playing, the search is now on for a new direction and a role with United would be a dream – with Constable already jokingly applying for the kit man vacancy.

Almost half his career was spent with the U’s, where he netted 106 goals, one shy of equalling the club record, including 26 in the 2009/10 season when they won promotion back to the Football League.

The statistics only go halfway to explaining the enduring popularity of the striker, known as Beano.

And even though it is almost five years since he left, Constable was inundated with messages from U’s fans after posting his intention to go part-time.

He said: “I had so many responses from people who took time out of their day to say thanks for everything you did, I wish you all the best for the future.

“It’s blown my mind that everyone’s given me that positivity looking forward.

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“Leaving football is quite a daunting time but that support has really been massive.

“You’re going down the route of sending CVs off and speaking to job agencies. I’ve never done that before, so it’s a scary prospect.

“But within an hour of sending the tweet and looking at all the messages it definitely makes that transition a lot easier.”

Constable ended up apologising to United on Monday after so many responses copied in the club, urging them to make a job offer and ‘bring him home’.

While there is no doubt that would appeal, the six-time top-scorer is keeping his options open.

“I’m the sort of person that I’d want to get a job I’ve earned,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to be pushed to the front of the queue because I’d played and done well there.”

He added: “I messaged Rosie (Peter Rhoades-Brown, U’s business development manager) a couple of weeks ago when the kit man job came up and said ‘here’s my CV’.

“I’d love to be back there in any capacity, it was such a great part of my life.

Oxford Mail:

  • James Constable scored 106 goals for Oxford United

“As you edge towards the end of your career you look back on it more fondly because of what a fantastic time I had there.”

While it remains to be seen if a dream return could happen, United have been in touch to offer their support.

Constable has his first two coaching badges, but is hoping to visit the club and spend time with a variety of departments.

He said: “They said come in and we’ll have a chat just to get an understanding of what happens.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what area I would want to work in.

“I’ve been so focused on playing that I’ve never thought about the other areas of football, like the commercial side.

“I’m excited for the future and what can come from it.”

CONCERNS at home have played a part in James Constable calling time on his professional career.

Last summer his second daughter, Mollie, was born with a rare eye condition.

A corneal transplant has made a huge difference, but the last few months have been a strain with several days a week spent at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Constable said: “Eastleigh were great about it, but I was still travelling to games with them.

“I went to Gateshead and came on for two minutes.

“We’d been away overnight and with my wife having a five-year-old as well as Mollie with her needs it meant I just felt guilty constantly being away.

“It made it an easier decision to look at going part-time.

“I would have loved to have carried on and challenged myself at a higher level, but the family was my main concern.

“Mollie’s doing really well now.

“We feel very lucky to be in the situation where they’ve been able to give her some sort of vision.”