Craig Mackail-Smith: exclusive interview
Brighton & Hove Albion signing Craig Mackail-Smith set sights on Premier League
After several twists and turns, the Craig Mackail-Smith transfer saga concluded on Monday with the striker signing for Brighton & Hove Albion.
It was a move that caught most by surprise, including Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony, but makes perfect sense to the 27-year-old himself, as he explained to GiveMeFootball.
"I'm absolutely delighted to have joined Brighton, and it's a fantastic opportunity for me. There has been a lot of interest over the summer but Brighton have been a constant and I'm pleased to get things finalised," said the forward after his second day of training with the club.
"The manager has showed me a vision and that's to reach the Premier League. Gus (Poyet) sold it to me - how he wants to take the club on - and I'm obviously thrilled to be a part of that vision."
Speculation was rife surrounding the 35-goal League One striker from the moment he helped fire the Posh to promotion last term, with a handful of clubs linked with a move for the Scottish international.
However, Mackail-Smith was quick to clear up the situation with regards to the clubs who came to the table when questioned about West Ham United, Norwich City, QPR and Leicester City, and gave a clear indication of why he chose a move to the south coast.
"The clubs you mention were the only teams I was aware of, with Norwich's interest first coming in March. With QPR, nothing concrete ever came to me," said the former Dagenham & Redbridge hitman.
"I know Peterborough were contacted by a number of clubs, and I spoke with some people, as goes on in football. I spoke to a couple of managers (from Championship teams), but for whatever reason things didn't work out.
"Brighton were the one constant, and when Gus told me what he wanted and what his plans were for the club, I knew this was the right decision for me to continue playing football and improving my game."
The excitement is clear to hear in the voice of Mackail-Smith who, after four years at London Road, is set to ply his trade at the brand new Amex Stadium next season.
With over 18,000 season tickets sold for next season, the potential of the club is apparent for all to see. These factors all played a part in the move, but the promise of further signings was not something that affected the decision of the Npower League One Player of the Year.
"Nothing was said to me about further signings this summer. I'm sure the club have other targets that the manager and chairman will be chasing, but the squad here is fantastic and they showed that by winning a competitive division last term," he continued.
"I want to player at the highest level, and believe that's what I need to continue improving my game. The plan and ambition of the club matches my own, and that's to reach the Premier League."
"I went round the new stadium on arrival and it's fantastic. They are clearly looking to improve all aspects of the club, and will be a great place to play football."
His departure from Peterborough was one expected and accepted by all connected to the club, with the hierarchy at the club vocal in their appreciation of the player's efforts throughout his time in Cambridgeshire.
After promising to give Posh one more season following their relegation from the Championship in 2009/10, Mackail-Smith played the biggest of roles in sending the club back to the second tier, and it's with a hint of sadness that he leaves Darren Ferguson's side.
"I've had a fantastic four years with Peterborough. The fans and management have always been great with me, and I'm absolutely thrilled that we secured that promotion at Old Trafford," he concluded.
"I'm already looking forward to the 26th, when they come to visit us at the new stadium, and I'm hoping they do well next season."