JACK Baldwin only left Hartlepool United because he could not turn down the “exciting new challenge” at Peterborough.
In an exclusive interview with SportMail, Baldwin felt moving to the League One side with aspirations of playing in the Championship next season was the “right move at the right time”.
The 20-year-old thanked Pools for helping him launch his professional career and praised the players and management team for developing his game, which has seen him become one of the most sought after talents in the lower leagues.
Baldwin signed a four-and-a-half year deal at Peterborough in a dramatic deadline day transfer deal, which could be worth up to £750,000 for Pools.
The fans favourite, also comfortable playing in midfield, joined Darren Ferguson’s side right on deadline, with the news not announced until just before 11pm on Friday.
“Transfer deadline day was a complete whirlwind and it all happened pretty quickly,” said Baldwin.
“I spoke to everybody involved and there were a few reasons why I chose to move, it was a lot closer to home plus the history Peterborough has in developing footballers also encouraged me.
“Plus there was the chance to potentially be playing Championship football next season.
“All in all, it was very appealing, I spoke to everyone, weighed up the options and thought it would be an exciting new challenge.
“It really was a difficult decision leaving Pools, they took me on as a youngster, gave me my chance and my first professional contract.
“They have helped me out a lot and I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done but it felt right to try to push myself and develop.
l TURN to Page 37
“Peterborough are pushing for the play-off places and promotion this year.
“Since it was announced I was leaving, 99.9 per cent of Pools fans have wished me all the best and they have been very supportive and thanked me for my performances.”
Another key reason for Baldwin’s departure is the fact he is soon to become a dad, with fiancée, Victoria Buddle, expecting their first child in eight weeks.
“It will be good for the little one to grow up with family not far away and I think it was a good choice all round,” added Baldwin.
Ferguson’s men are seventh in Sky Bet League One, just a point outside the play-offs but have played a game less after their weekend match against Colchester United was called off.
Highly-rated Baldwin, described by some as the next Alan Hansen, said: “I spent the weekend at home with the family, then it was my first day Monday and I met up with everybody and they are a great bunch of lads.”
Signed from Faversham Town in 2011 by then Pools boss Mick Wadsworth, Baldwin has long since attracted scouts and played a total of 85 times for the Victoria Park outfit, scoring six goals.
The transfer is for an initial £500,000, with the potential for add-ons, the biggest transfer fee involving Pools since Adam Boyd left for Luton Town.
Pools gaffer Colin Cooper revealed after Saturday’s goalless draw with Scunthorpe United that he had tried to persuade Baldwin to stay with the lure of a new contract.
But despite initially saying he was happy at the Clarence Road club, Baldwin then said he wanted to talk to Posh.
And the defender has tipped veteran defender Sam Collins, to do a “great job” at the heart of Pools’ defence.
“Sam helped me out a lot when I was there,” he said. “Some people do not like the idea of someone taking their position in the team but he was always supportive and helped me out.
“I heard Sam did really well on Saturday and I’m sure he will keep it up, he is after all an experienced professional, has been there and done it, so it is second nature for him.
“They are all great lads at Pools and I will miss them a lot.”
Baldwin also reserved praise for Pools’ management team, Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett.
“Colin and Craig have really brought me on this year,” he said. “They have really worked on my development.
“Colin was obviously a former centre-back himself and he has helped me a lot and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me, they have both been great.”