Dean Bowditch: New father and free agent putting family before football
Former MK Dons forward Dean Bowditch is happy to make family his priority after becoming a father, five painful years after losing a child during pregnancy.
Bowditch, 33, is a free agent after being released by Northampton Town at the end of last season.
But in an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio, he said that he had turned down a number of offers in order to spend time with his son Albert.
The striker and his wife Hayley lost their first child at 21 weeks.
Bowditch was part of the MK Dons team that secured promotion to the Championship in the 2014-2015 season, but despite the joy of success on the pitch, his personal life was turned upside down.
"What should have been an ecstatic season with such an incredible team turned out to be a really tough one for me personally," he said.
"It's still very difficult to talk about it. Five years ago we lost a child at 21 weeks during pregnancy.
"It was really tough for me, for my wife and the football just took a back seat."
He was full of praise for MK Dons and manager Karl Robinson, who supported the family during the difficult period, as well as his wife for showing such strength.
Bowditch continued: "When we came back, Hayley said to me 'you need to make a choice now, you can either dwell on it, or you say you go again'.
"From a man's point of view, you need to be there for her and I was, but she was there so much for me as well."
Five years on, and the story is a much happier one, with Albert arriving safely into the family seven weeks ago.
"We have been waiting for this little bundle of joy and he is just that," Bowditch said.
"After all the pain and all the heartache, we get him and it's almost like none of it ever happened; it's incredible."
'Some things are way more important'
Fatherhood has given the former Ipswich man a new sense of perspective and contentment, as he revealed that he had turned down offers because the time he would have to spend travelling.
For now, he is happy to enjoy family life while remaining on the lookout for a new club.
"I can hear people saying 'you need to put food on the table' but I'm lucky that I have been able to put money in the bank to have this transitional period," he said.
"Now I get to spend a hell of a lot more time with my son. When these offers come in and there was one in particular, I won't say who it was, I really wanted to sign, not just for the club but for the manager as well, but some things are way more important."