Nathan Thomas has thanked Hartlepool United “for everything” after making a dream move into the Championship with Sheffield United.
The talented forward joined the Blades this week for a fee believed to be in the region of £300,000.
Thomas is excited to be joining a team on the up, having been unable to keep Pools in the Football League.
The former Sunderland winger is a much-travelled player already by the age of 22, having played for the Black Cats, Plymouth Argyle, Motherwell and Mansfield Town before Ronnie Moore made an inspired signing in the January 2016 transfer window.
Thomas only played a few games for Moore before he was sacked and he really flourished under his successor, Craig Hignett.
Given the licence to roam, the Teessider tore defences apart and scored a number of spectacular goals.
He carried that form into this campaign, but a mid-season injury at Barnet required surgery and he failed to regain his old form on his return.
“I just want to thank Hartlepool for everything,” said Thomas.
“When I was at Mansfield, I needed to go home for personal reasons.
“They let me do that and Hartlepool gave me a the opportunity.
“They couldn’t have done enough for me and I’ll never forget that.”
Thomas, speaking to BBC Sheffield, said he was on a “high” following the move.
But he insisted that he wants Pools to bounce straight back from the National League.
“I’ve gone from the lowest low to a real high in a month,” he said. “Probably the biggest high I’ve ever had in the game.
“But I also hope Hartlepool come back because the club and the fans don’t deserve what happened.
“They should be a league club, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Thomas had the chance to join hometown club Middlesbrough but said once he had spoken to Blades boss Chris Wilder, there was only one destination he was going.
“When you sit down in front of the manager, you just immediately buy into what he wants to do,” he said.
“The way he speaks about the club, I know he’s a local lad and his background with it, just grabs you straight away.”
“Persuasive isn’t the right word because I didn’t have to be persuaded.
“But he leaves you in no doubt what this club is about, what it means to play for it and what it means for the people here and the fans.
“And about what he wants for it, how he wants to keep pushing forward, as well.
“It’s a great club and I can’t wait.”