SIMON Walton has revealed that a meeting with Neale Cooper persuaded him to sign for Hartlepool United – citing the “ambition” and “enthusiasm” of the Scot.
The 24-year-old became Cooper’s second signing of the summer yesterday when he joined from Plymouth Argyle.
Walton was only made aware of Pools’ interest at the start of the week and he met with Cooper the following day.
And it was during the face-to-face with the Pools chief when the midfielder decided that Victoria Park was the place for him.
“I got a phone call from the gaffer and then met with him,” explained Walton, “From then I just knew it felt right.
“It was just his whole manner, his ambition and enthusiasm.
“He doesn’t seem like the sort of guy who will settle for second best and I’m like that as a player and person myself.
“After that meeting it certainly didn’t take long to say ‘yes’ and I’m just delighted it was all done within a matter of days.
“I’ve signed at the start of pre-season rather than the end, which I’ve done a couple of times, and that’s brilliant because it gives you plenty of time to get to know the lads and settle in.”
Walton came through the ranks at hometown club Leeds United before moving on to Charlton Athletic for a fee of £1m.
Loan spells at Ipswich Town and Cardiff City followed before swapping South London for West London and a move to Queens Park Rangers.
Walton struggled to make an impact at Loftus Road and it wasn’t long before the central-midfielder had signed for Plymouth in the summer of 2008.
His four years on the South Coast were punctuated by injury and various loan spells, but last season he was made captain by manager Carl Fletcher and finished the campaign as top goalscorer with nine.
The Pilgrims, though, agreed to release Walton from his contract this week to allow the player to move closer to his family, including his three-year-old daughter.
And he went on: “Leeds is just an hour or so away and that was so important.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive family man, especially when it comes to my daughter.
“I am upset to leave Plymouth but I am taking a step forward in my life and a step up in division.”
Meanwhile, Argyle boss Fletcher said: “Last year, he was a really important person for us.
“He’s gone through so much for this club. He was my captain and pretty much leading out a bunch of kids when he was only just 24 himself.
“He was a massive part of what we achieved last season.
“I’ve known Walts for a long time and he’s just a nice guy. I think a lot of people don’t see that.
“He changed his contract to help the sale of the club go through, which shows the character of the man. It’s important that we remember that.
“We are disappointed to see him go and we wish him all the best for the future.”