Derry man James McClean admits Gary Rowett’s long-held pursuit of him played a major role in his decision to sign for Stoke City.
The Republic of Ireland international, who signed a four-year deal with The Potters at the weekend, could feature in Stoke’s home friendly encounter tomorrow night against last season’s Championship title winners Wolves.
The 26-year-old had his first training session with his new club yesterday and believes Rowett - who tried to take him on loan at Derby County last season when he was manager at Pride Park - will back him.
“Gary tried to sign me for Derby in January and he wanted me when he was in charge of Birmingham and I was at Wigan, so you could say he’s been persistent,” stated McClean.
“It’s nice when you know that someone rates you so highly and as soon as he got the job at Stoke he was looking to bring me here. It’s now up to me to repay the faith he’s shown in me.
“For the last seven or eight weeks it seems to have been a case of something would happen over the course of the next 24 or 48 hours. It’s been frustrating and not ideal but it’s done now and I’m glad to be a Stoke City player and can’t wait to get started.
“I really do think that Stoke are well-placed for the future and that was one of the key reasons behind my decision. The fact that Stoke have managed to keep the backbone of their team and they’ve made a few good signings fills me with optimism. I’m really delighted to be here – it looks positive for the future.
“Stoke City is a club that doesn’t want to be in the Championship and I’m the same. Hopefully myself and the club can get back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
“There’s great passion among the supporters for the club – whenever I’ve played here in the past the noise has been really noticeable and hopefully that will spur us on this season.”
As for McClean’s new boss, he’s delighted to have finally got his man.
“James is a player I’ve admired for a long time. He has real quality with his left foot and he’s an old fashioned winger in so much that he retains width and gives teams balance,” said Rowett.
“Every time I’ve watched him play I’ve always been impressed by how hard he worked - he’s a team player who shows real desire to help his team-mates out and run for the team.
“I’ve spoken to lads who have played with him before, the likes of Darren Fletcher, and they have all said that he’s a great guy to have around the dressing room and he’s really, really popular with his team-mates.”