BY the time the curtain came down on Wanderers’ wretched Championship campaign at the City Ground in May, Sammy Ameobi was long gone.

His absence on the final day, alongside that of Polish full-back Pawel Olkowski, spoke volumes of what was in store this summer – the gradual dissolution of a squad which had struggled under pressure, on and off the field.

Ameobi had already signalled his intention to cancel the last 12 months of his contract, feeling he and other players had been badly let down by their employers.

Still unpaid since March, and now on the verge of continuing his career with Nottingham Forest, his exit has not been viewed entirely sympathetically by supporters, some of whom viewed his decision to leave so quickly on the back of a poor campaign as treacherous.

There were warning signs throughout the campaign that Ameobi was not happy with what was going on around him, mirrored on many occasions it must be said, in his body language.

Forest had initially tried to sign him in January, prior to the league game against Bristol City. The offer of £500,000 was rejected out of hand, which seems rather surprising given Bolton’s financial situation.

Reports at the time put a slightly unrealistic price of £4million on his head but as quickly as the story revealed itself on deadline day, the negotiations were killed stone dead.

Neither Ameobi nor his representatives were happy and it took no small amount of mediation from Phil Parkinson to get the player back on track.

From there, the 27-year-old failed to recapture anything like his top form and was involved in 10 defeats in his 13 starts between the collapse of the Forest deal and the end of the season.

The sparkle had disappeared, and there was less conviction in those trademark cut-ins off the wing on to a firecracker of a left foot.

But while Ameobi clearly lacked in motivation as the pay problems escalated, eventually eclipsing what was happening on the pitch, his work in Wanderers’ first season back in the Championship should not be underestimated.

With the ball at his feet and that languid, effortless stride, he was able to keep possession when others struggled. So often chastised for their direct style of play under Parkinson, Wanderers lacked any similar type of player who could dribble their way out of trouble and so a safety to Gary Madine, or the like, became a go-to option.

Much of Ameobi’s best work came in conjunction with the similarly dynamic Mark Little, and though his replacement in the side, Olkowski, was arguably technically accomplished, the pair never quite seemed to strike up the same level of on-field rapport.

At League One level Ameobi had at times been unplayable when Parkinson first brought him to the club. In fact for several weeks after his return to Newcastle in early January 2017, fans wondered if Bolton’s promotion charge would be derailed without their talismanic wide man. Thankfully a restructure involving the arrival of a certain Adam Le Fondre managed to gel in time to see the club clinch a top two place.

Parkinson had installed a work-rate into Ameobi that had not been seen to that stage in his career. Arriving from Tyneside with a reputation for being an impact sub with physical limitations, the Bolton boss and his medical staff worked tirelessly to improve his stamina and levels of concentration.

When Ameobi was released by Newcastle in the summer of 2017, he repaid some of that debt by signing for Wanderers ahead of several other – perhaps more financially stable – options. And though a knee injury stalled his progress in the first few months, he was later involved in nine of Bolton’s 10 victories that season, underlining how important he had become to Parkinson’s side.

For the situation to have become so untenable that Ameobi outright requested to leave Bolton is a sad footnote. The player acknowledged the impact Parkinson, and Bolton, had on his career when speaking to The Bolton News earlier this month but his legacy, perhaps more than any other member of last season’s squad, may now be forever tainted by its failure.