Aaron Pierre is a very popular man in Shropshire.
As soon as his re-signing was announced a little under a month ago when Town travelled to Cambridge, there was a huge reaction on social media.
Supporters reminisced about that thunderous FA Cup strike at Bristol City, about the performances that saw him crowned Player of the Year and about his fellow Grenadian internationals who all enjoyed cult-hero status.
And that feeling is very much mutual with Aaron Pierre admitting he could not be happier to be back playing in front of the Salop faithful once again.
"I'm thrilled to be back,” ‘P’ began. “I love it, I love being here. The fans of this club have always been amazing with me. From the moment I arrived to the moment I left they were magnificent, so I'm really grateful to get the chance to play in front of them again.
“My main memories from my first spell here are of the fans. I love the energy and they had the Grenadian flag there which was a big honour as well.
"It really is amazing to be back at a club where you feel loved so I can't wait to pull on the shirt again.
“I spoke to the gaffer, I’ve played with him at Northampton, and he then gave me a call to come in and see how things go and go from there.”
P and Salop boss Matt Taylor shared a dressing room at The Cobblers in 2017 before the boss made a switch to Swindon Town.
"Aaron is a player I know very well having played with him at Northampton,” the gaffer commented when Pierre signed. “He also has a strong affiliation with the football club.
"He is a man of immense character and a very good person.
"He has a point to prove and has integrated into the group really well."
One thing Aaron has had his eyes set on since re-signing was his 100th Shrewsbury Town appearance. The defender initially departed the club with 99 games under his belt – agonisingly close to the mark.
"There is a board at the training ground that shows all the players who have made 100 appearances for the club, and I used to look at that and was desperate to get on it,” the 31-year-old explained.
“I kid you not, ever since I came back into the building, I’ve just been looking at the next slot saying, ‘that’s going to be me.’
"Unfortunately, I left having played 99 games so I couldn't wait to make up for lost time and get that 100th game under my belt."
Aaron didn’t have to wait long for his century, entering the fray away at Barnsley just two weeks after penning his new deal.
“I’m over the moon to get to 100 games played,” P said with a smile. “It’s a great achievement under any circumstances to get 100 appearances in any club.
"I am so pleased I got to do that for Shrewsbury. I’m here to help the players and make an impact."
In the 18 months Aaron was away from the club, a lot of players had moved on and a lot of new faces had arrived. However, among the friendly welcomes when P first re-entered the building a month ago would have been Marko Marosi, Harry Burgoyne, Dan Udoh, George Nurse, Tom Flanagan, Ryan Bowman and Elliott Bennett – all of whom were at the club when Aaron stepped foot on the pitch in blue and amber for the final time of his first spell.
“I think there’s about seven players that were here when I was last here,” Pierre recalled, “but everyone welcomed me in as if they already knew me, so it's all good for me.
"The new players that are here now are as hungry as ever. They’re great guys to be around and I think it’s a good group.”
Aaron will be the first to admit he’s not had the easiest year and a half in between his two stints in Shropshire.
His next venture took him back to south London where he joined Sutton United – a 16-mile journey through southwest London to where he grew up in Southall. Unfortunately, this move didn’t work out for Aaron as he was burdened by injury at The U’s.
“I had a bad injury with my ankle which obviously left me out at Sutton, and then I ended up going to Wimbledon in the January transfer window,” he explained.
"They were doing well at the time, so it was just about biding my time to get in. And then once I got my opportunity at the back end of the season, I think I did really well."
Things certainly improved at his second club, and he missed just five of their games after he made his debut in early February including one to represent Grenada, one through injury and one through suspension.
He also netted for the first time in exactly 28 months when he put The Dons a goal to the good at home to Swindon in April. His last strike came in December 2020 when he converted the only goal of the game in Shrewsbury’s 1-0 win away at Doncaster Rovers.
“It can be hard, it’s a waiting game sometimes - you've got to be patient,” Pierre said when asked about his difficult spell.
"It’s hard to not be in the mix of things, so you have to just stay focused, stay motivated and do the best you can to get back in.”
After biding his time last season, Aaron must now fight his way into Shrewsbury’s side, but he’s more than up for the challenge!
“It’s not going to be easy,” he said with a smile on his face, “everything’s tough and I think that’s a good thing because it pushes you, it makes you understand that there are standards and you have to keep your standards, maintain that and do better.
"Everyone here wants to push each other and that’s the good thing about the players here. Everyone wants to do well.
"It’s never going to be easy, so I just need to make sure that I’m on my P’s and Q’s and make sure I do everything the right way."