Billy Paynter is relishing life at Hartlepool United – now that he finally feels “wanted”.
The club’s new captain led the line superbly against Morecambe, scoring one and setting up Rakish Bingham as Pools ran out 2-0 winners on the opening day of the season.
When you are wanted, it just gives you a real extra boost in confidence.
Paynter’s header 25 minutes in was his 100th league goal, before playing his strike partner in with a sublime lob midway through the second half.
The 31-year-old - made an outcast at former club Carlisle United - was delighted to get off the mark as Pools started the season in the best possible way.
And he is looking to repay the faith shown in him by manager Ronnie Moore.
“It is nice to be wanted first and foremost and the manager has shown that faith in me,” Paynter told SportMail.
“He has shown trust in me to give me the armband and I want to repay him and the team.
“When you are wanted, it just gives you a real extra boost in confidence.
“Mind, it was the first time I’d been captain and I didn’t know what to do at times, it was the first time speaking to the referee etc.
“But it is a learning curve and one I am relishing.
“I’m just happy to be out there playing, I’m not one to be sat there watching games and I am loving every minute here.
“I have shown the fans what I am about, I don’t mind taking the kicks and the knocks and taking the pressure off the other lads.”
To cap a positive opening day, Paynter’s goal - his first for the club - was also a landmark in his career.
He added: “It is a proud moment although I thought I’d already passed it!
“I’m really pleased to get 100 league goals, but more pleased to get the win.
“Everybody in the dressing room was really chuffed.
“To go with three up front showed the manager’s intent to go at them.
“All pre-season we have played 3-5-2 so to play 4-3-3 surprised Morecambe.
“In the second half the game got a bit too open, which the manager wasn’t too pleased with but there were far more positives than negatives.
“Me and Bings got on the scoresheet and set each other up, a clean sheet for the defence and [Adam] Bartlett was magnificent and made some good saves
“Morecambe are a very good side, and they usually start the season well and are always up there so we were all pleased to get the win.”
The first goal of the season was also an opportunity to show off the new celebration, a nod to the squad’s week-long training camp at Catterick Army Garrison.
Paynter added: “The first one to score had to shout ‘Grenade!’ and then we all dropped to the deck.
“There is a great spirit here and from day one I knew there was a good bunch of lads, all sticking together.
“That showed last year with the heroics of last season, a real togetherness.
“And I am happy to be a part of such a tight team.”