IT was tough, mentally draining as well as physically demanding, but Gretar Steinsson believes he gained a wealth of experience in his first five months at the Reebok.

The determined, down-to-earth Icelander fulfilled a long-held ambition when he joined Wanderers from AZ Alkmaar in a £3.5million transfer in January. Earlier in his career he had been rejected as a trialist, but it was always in his mind that, when he eventually came to England, Bolton would be the place.

The timing could have been better, though. After four successive top-eight finishes, Wanderers were fighting a battle to stay in the Premiership – a fight they seemed certain to lose when the wheels fell off at Aston Villa on April 5.

Yet, when all seemed lost, they claimed 11 points in their last five games and lived to fight another day.

“I will never forget that last couple of months,” Steinsson, pictured, said, looking back on that nerve-jangling finale when everyone – management, players and supporters – rallied to the cause.

“It’s something to tell the grandchildren in years to come: how we got away with it, how we got out of it. It was unbelievable, but I don’t ever want to go through anything like that again.

“It was mentally hard for the players, the staff and for the fans but it’s something we will learn from. We can’t let that happen to us again.”

Gary Megson’s end-of-season appraisal of the 26-year-old full-back suggests a need for more consistency: early performances suggested he had not only hit the ground running, but had hit the Premiership heights as well – not always the case with foreigners. But there were also occasions when he was still adjusting to the English game.

For Steinsson, however, it is a case of so far so good, but with the promise of much more to come.

“I adapted really quickly to the lads and to the English game,” he said.

“That’s never easy. Sometimes it can take years to make that adjustment.

“But I’ve got to know the players and I’ve got to know the club and being here for the start of a new season will be important.

“I feel I am established now, not just a ‘winter buy’, so I’m really looking forward to the start of the season.

“I can’t wait. At the moment it’s all about getting ourselves prepared. Being physically fit is important, but we have to be mentally ready for the start. We just can’t let the same things happen to us that happened last season.”