AN emotional Shay Given delivered a 'thank you' message to the fans for making his farewell Middlesbrough appearance memorable then admitted: 'I could be back again this season.'
But rather than pull on a Boro shirt once more, the Irishman could switch to another Championship club and that could yet see him face Aitor Karanka's side in the remaining months of the campaign.
Given will return to Aston Villa this week to discuss his future, knowing he will not be able to return to Teesside because he has reached the maximum 93-day length of his emergency loan.
But that would not stop him from heading to another Football League club.
Having been touched by the tremendous reception he got from the Riverside crowd after Saturday's goalless draw with Leeds United, Given thinks it would be strange to come back so soon wearing a different goalkeeper jersey.
“It looks like I will be going back and I won't be playing much football,” said Given. “That's the situation I am in. Hopefully something will happen in the summer somewhere.
“It has been really frustrating not playing before I came here. That's obvious for everyone to see and the window doesn't open until the summer, so maybe there is a Championship club out there who might want me.
“I might go back out again somewhere before the end of March. Aston Villa want me out of the door so something might happen. It would be strange if I came back. I might get a different reaction from the fans then! The fans have been great since I joined.
“It was a bit emotional at the end of the game because all the fans gave me a standing ovation. I would like to thank them genuinely.”
Given, 37, kept the tenth clean sheet of his 16 appearances by keeping out Leeds, even if he had a relatively quiet afternoon.
But he would prefer not to be going. He said: “It's a wrench to leave, I would have liked to have stayed until the end of the season.”
Given's departure also brings his latest stint in the North-East to an end having previously been adored up the road at both Sunderland and Newcastle United.
He said: “I have enjoyed my time in the North-East at all the clubs and I have some great memories of my time here. I might end up at Hartlepool or Darlington yet! You never know whether I will be back or not.”
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka – who will now decide whether to recall fit again Jason Steele or play either Dimi Konstantopoulos or Tomas Osorio at Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday - would have preferred to have kept Given.
Now Given just hopes Karanka can get Middlesbrough firing again after going six matches without a win. “The manager said a few words in the dressing room to say thanks for what I have done for him as a player. The lads clapped, “ said Given. “You know, it is not about me, I just wish the lads well for the rest of the season. They have all helped me fit in. It is just a shame I have to go now.”