ANTONI Sarcevic has lifted the lid on his controversial exit from Wanderers in October 2021.

The former Bolton captain’s rushed exit in the days after heavy defeats to Wigan Athletic and his former club, Plymouth Argyle, has remained a subject of debate ever since.

Many speculated over a “bust up” with manager Ian Evatt, although the details were never quite as fantastical as some made out at the time.

Sarcevic had led Bolton to promotion from League Two but after making an indifferent start to the season, the club were already looking at potential successors in key positions for the January window.

Having been criticised for his performance in a 4-0 home defeat against Wigan – a game in which Sarcevic says he was carrying a shin injury - the situation came to a head after a rain-soaked game at Home Park.

Less than 48 hours later it was confirmed his contract had been terminated and picked up again by Stockport County, then of the National League.

The midfielder helped County to two promotions and a play-off final in the intervening years and has recently signed for League Two Bradford City after his release at Edgeley Park.

The Bolton News: Antoni Sarcevic celebrates a winning goal against Lincoln City in 2021Antoni Sarcevic celebrates a winning goal against Lincoln City in 2021 (Image: Camerasport)

But he feels some regret that his season-and-a-half with Bolton ended in such acrimonious fashion, having enjoyed such a good relationship with Evatt to that point.

“Up until I left, I regarded him as one of the best I’d had, he was brilliant, he’d pull me and Doyler (Eoin Doyle) in and ask how the lads were, put our points across, and it was brilliant. And it ended on a sour note,” he told the I Had Trials Once podcast.

Sarcevic and experienced striker Eoin Doyle had been told they were to play against Wigan but start on the bench at Plymouth in midweek, with Kieran Lee and Amadou Bakayoko starting instead.

“Emotionally I was like ‘if I can get through Saturday, I want to be available Tuesday,’ and it was a case of just agreeing to disagree,” he said.

“We got hammered (against Wigan) and then we came in Sunday and travelled down to Plymouth on the Monday. On the coach, the gaffer and Gillo (Matt Gilks) sat on the table next to me, Doyler (Won Doyle), Izzy (Lloyd Isgrove), Tuttey (Andy Tutte).

“That’s how it was from when I signed, we’d have chats and it was class, but on the way down to Plymouth, nothing.

Read more: Wanderers were looking at Sarcevic successors

“I am looking at Doyler and saying ‘I know we’ve lost but he’s never like this, there is another game.’ “He is laughing it off and saying ‘whatever’ but I could see too much.

“We got to Plymouth, woke up in the morning and went for breakfast. You get your own individual rooms and we were eating in a room (down a corridor) but before you get to it there was a coffee machine.

“Me and Doyler are there, the gaffer just walks down, goes to the machine, walks straight back past us. We had a good relationship, but nothing.

“Because I’d played for Plymouth and Doyler knew one of the lads from Swindon, Luke McCormack, we went for a coffee that afternoon. We got back about half an hour before lunch and the gaffer goes ‘lads, can I see you both?’

“He said ‘I’m going to stick to my plan, Baka (Amadou Bakayoko) is coming in for you, and Kieran Lee coming in for you.’

“He said ‘Sarce, do you want to say anything’ and I said we’d speak after the game. Done, that was it.

“The game happens but the gaffer had a touchline ban and he was up in the stands. We were 2-0 down and it was about the 60th minute and Pete Atherton or Gillo told me to get warm. I came on about 65 minutes in, I had a great chance to make it 2-1 but missed it.

The Bolton News: Antoni Sarcevic's last game for Bolton was a rain-soaked night at his former club Plymouth ArgyleAntoni Sarcevic's last game for Bolton was a rain-soaked night at his former club Plymouth Argyle (Image: Camerasport)

“Then the rain just came from nowhere. The video of their third goal went viral.”

Wanderers lost 3-0 at Plymouth but Sarcevic says Evatt took issue with his behaviour in the lead up to the game.

“We were walking back in and a few of the lads are having a shout as normal,” he said. “The gaffer comes in and tells us all to shut up. He points at me and says: ‘Your face since we had the meeting, looking out the window.’

“I was like: ‘I wasn’t. Why did you bring me on then? I should have scored but I haven’t tossed it off.

“I said: ‘Leave out,’ and I turned to the lads and said: ‘Sorry lads if I have been a pain for the last two days.’ “A few of them said I hadn’t. He said: ‘If you all think that then you are a bunch of…’ and then walked out.

“I took my kit off, went straight in the shower, lads were coming in there to tell me to leave it. He was obviously emotional.

“I thought it was personal. I had been with the lads, I was fine, but if he thought that, he wouldn’t have brought me on.

“I got my gear on and went out. Lowey (Plymouth manager Ryan Lowe) came over and put my arm round me, and I got emotional, the manager I had now to the one I loved. I was a bit worked up, and he said: ‘I’m buzzing to see you doing well, back home.’

“I was emotional and we had to get the coach back on the other side of the ground. As I walked round the gaffer has three lads – I can’t remember who they were – but he was talking to them and then as I walked past they all stopped, as if I was invisible.

“Imagine the feeling? This is bang out of order.

“I got to my room and Facetimed my Missus. I said I’d never been treated like that. I said it’s the worst I have ever felt. Kate said it’ll be OK, it’s emotional, and she’s like that, sees the positive in everything. She said to let it go.

“Next morning, we’d stayed after the game, my mind is on overdrive. We went down to breakfast and one of the staff said: ‘Meeting at 9am’.

“I was hoping it would be a case of ‘it’s been a tough two games but let’s get over it.’ But not in the slightest.

“They said lads who started get yourself ready, those who didn’t in the gym. My mind is going mental. Got my kit on and must have been in there for 15 seconds and Hirdy (Sam Hird), the assistant, pokes his head around and says: ‘Sarce, can I grab you a minute?’

“I put the dumbbells down and looked at MJ (Williams) and said: ‘What’s this now?’

“We’re walking and it felt like half an hour. Hirdy was looking for a place to go. I just wanted to get it over with. He said: ‘It’s hard for me to say, this, but we think you were a bit too hard there.’

“I said I’d done nothing wrong.

“He said ‘I know, but you know what he’s like, he’s a bit emotional.’ “I felt like it was personal, the way he’s attacked me in front of the lads.

“Hirdy said ‘It’s hard for me to say this, but Stockport have come in for you.’ “I was like ‘what?’ I just switched into a mode I have had all my career, I said ‘brilliant, let’s get it done!’

“Hirdy asked if I wanted to go and speak to the manager, but I didn’t. Why did I need to speak to him, if he wanted to speak to me, he would have been the one doing it.

“I got to my room, and it was massive emotion. I was still in Plymouth and hadn’t had time to ring her (his wife).

“I got on the coach and we were sat at the back. I turned around and said ‘I’m off to Stockport.’ “I kid you not, from the minute I got on the coach to the minute I got home, I was sorting a deal with Stockport.

“I look back now and think surely there was a discussion beforehand, maybe after the Wigan game, maybe they knew they had to get rid of me? It was so sudden, it couldn’t have been done that quickly, I don’t know.

“Stockport wanted me before Bolton, to be fair.”

The Bolton News: Sarcevic in Stockport County colours battling against Dapo AfolayanSarcevic in Stockport County colours battling against Dapo Afolayan (Image: Camerasport)

Sarcevic played against Bolton later that year as Stockport claimed a famous scalp in the FA Cup, beating Evatt’s side 5-3 after extra time.

His post-match celebrations did rile Wanderers fans – as have some comments made on social media – but the midfielder insists that those he has met in person have always been welcoming.

“I get some abuse,” he added. “I have bumped into so many. You bump into me face to face and they see what type of lad I am, and we have a good chat and it’s honest.

“Then you get on to socials, the ones behind their phones, and I can take the banter but not the ones that go to my Missus. I get called ‘a rat, snake, fat’ but it starts to get a bit too much.

“When I did sign for Stockport I was advised to get off my socials because there was no point in having it.”

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