HAVING played a key role in helping Cherries keep their place in the Football League, Shwan Jalal is now hoping to get back in it.

A pivotal figure in the club’s Greatest Escape in 2008-09, Jalal is currently enjoying life at the right end of the National League with table-toppers Macclesfield.

And a return to League Two would be just the ticket for the goalkeeper, a fourth career promotion to add to the two he won during an eventful six-year stay at Dean Court.

Jalal had always been desperate to showcase his talents on the biggest stage having first joined the pro ranks as an 18-year-old with Tottenham in 2001.

But he failed to break into the first team at White Hart Lane before enduring a tough baptism in League Two with Peterborough having signed from Woking in 2007.

So when Kevin Bond came calling in July 2008, Jalal jumped at the chance to finally try to firmly establish himself as a genuine number one.

Little did he realise what would be in store during his first season.

“I was a bit naïve about the club’s financial position but just wanted to play,” said Jalal, speaking to the Daily Echo ahead of Cherries’ Premier League showdown with Spurs on Sunday.

“But it soon hit me when I realised we were going to start the season on minus 17 points and I made my debut just a few hours after the club had been given the green light to stay in the league!

“Neil Moss had just announced his retirement and I came down and played a pre-season friendly against Portsmouth.

“I came on loan initially because there was a takeover going through before the deal became permanent. I was excited to be joining a new club.

“We had a quality squad and felt as if we could achieve something but what was going on off the pitch affected us a lot. Until that was sorted, it was never going to be right.

“It was a whirlwind to say the least. Before my first month was up, there had been a change of manager and Jimmy Quinn came in to replace Kevin. But it got to just before Christmas and things had not improved.

“After we had lost 2-0 at home to Barnet, the players called a meeting with the owners (Alastair Saverimutto and Paul Baker).

“We asked whether we were going to get paid for Christmas. They said they didn’t know where the story had come from and that we would definitely get paid. Payday came and went and we didn’t see a penny!”

While the appointment of Eddie Howe as Quinn’s successor would go on to prove a masterstroke, Jalal was the first player to become victim to the rookie boss’s ruthless streak.

“Something clicked when Eddie got the job,” said Jalal. “You could tell he meant business and the players took to him immediately.

“But he dropped me after a couple of games – it wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last!

“He brought in David Button on loan from Spurs. Eddie was very frank and honest with me. He said he rated me as a goalkeeper but said he needed more from me. I took it on the chin.

“David’s form wasn’t great in the couple of games he played and I was training well so Eddie took the decision to put me back in and we didn’t look back that season.

“Staying up was amazing. If the club had gone down, I think that would have been it.

“Eddie’s hands were tied and he didn’t change much over the summer, although he made us work harder during pre-season.

“Losing my place made me a better player and a better person. The penny finally dropped that in order to get anywhere and be successful, you had to work hard.

“I could also attribute a lot of my form to Neil Moss. He really took me to the next level and demanded more consistency. One of the biggest strengths of the coaching team was that they got the best out of everybody.

“We won promotion that season and it was unbelievable. It seems like yesterday that we clinched it at Burton, a day I will never forget.

“I remember walking into the changing room after all the celebrations and Eddie was sweeping up.

“I thanked him for the season and he said ‘let’s look forward to next season’. That’s him all over – he’s a winner and that group were winners.”

Jalal missed just 10 league games in three seasons between 2008 and 2011, with Cherries’ League One play-off near miss coming months after Howe had left for Burnley.

“There had been a lot of speculation,” said Jalal. “He got us all together on the morning of a match at Colchester to say it would be his last game. It hit a lot of the players very hard.”

Jalal featured in Cherries’ League One play-off defeat to Huddersfield but found his chances limited during his next three years – with injuries and a contract dispute not helping.

“I have always hated watching from the stands,” he added. “I left on positive terms and still keep in touch with a lot of people there. It is a massive honour to have played a small part in where they are now.

“I see a lot of similarities between Bournemouth and Macclesfield. The big step for us now is to try to get back in the Football League and that’s what we are all working towards.”