Ryan Leonard has thanked Sheffield United for their perseverance during his protracted transfer to Bramall Lane.
The midfielder officially joined Chris Wilder’s side last night, eight months after seeing a proposed deal collapse when his former club Southend refused to agree a fee.
Leonard, who could be joined at United by at least one more new player before Friday night’s Steel City derby against Sheffield Wednesday, said: “It means a lot that the manager and the team as a whole didn’t give up on me. It feels good, I take that as a massive vote of confidence and now I just want to concentrate on repaying the faith they’ve shown in me.
“Obviously, as everybody knows, there’s been talk about it for a while but, when things didn’t go through in the summer, I just kept my head down and focused on my football because that’s the professional thing to do.
“There was talk about a few clubs actually but this was always where I wanted to come. Whenever I’ve played here before for Southend, the atmosphere and the fans have always been phenomenal; the best I’ve experienced in football to be fair. So hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy that every single week.”
United have paid an undisclosed sum to acquire Leonard’s services, with Wilder recently revealing he continued to monitor the 25-year-old’s performances following last summer’s aborted move.
Admitting the demands the manager places upon United’s squad also influenced his decision, Leonard added: “I didn’t know he was still watching me all the way through but that’s great to hear. I felt the time was right for me to take that step-up and I like the fact the way he (Wilder) likes to go about things, also fit with my own ideas as well.
“I like to think I’m a good athlete who can get from box to box and someone who brings a good work ethic and honesty. That’s the way the lads are here so hopefully I can bring something to the team. There’s some really good players here and lots of competition but that’s good. I’ll try and bring something a bit different. I like to try and score a goal as well.”
United enter their latest meeting with Wednesday ranked seventh in the Championship table and Leonard said: “I’ve trained with the boys and you can see the quality here so the aim has got to be promotion. I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a really strong challenge after the start to the season they’ve had.”