Sam Winnall told RamsTV that the opportunity to link up with Gary Rowett once again was an exciting prospect for him and he cannot wait to repay the man that helped him give him his big break in football.
The 26-year-old forward has joined Derby County from Sheffield Wednesday as part of a season-long loan swap deal that saw Jacob Butterfield move in the opposite direction in the closing minutes of Transfer Deadline Day.
He became Rowett’s fifth signing of the summer window, which became six later on following the arrival of Maikel Kieftenbeld on a two-year contract, and Winnall is someone he knows all about.
The pair first crossed paths in February 2011 when Burton Albion, where Rowett was assistant manager under Paul Peschisolido, brought him to the Pirelli Stadium on loan.
Giving him his first taste of league football, Winnall scored seven goals in 12 starts for the Brewers and even to this day he is grateful to Rowett and Peschisolido for ‘taking a risk’ on him.
He told RamsTV in his first interview as a Derby player: “As soon as I heard from my agent that Derby and Gary were interested I had no intention of going anywhere else. I’m very happy that they have shown that belief in me.
“I worked with Gary at Burton and I know what he is all about. He is someone that I respect within football and I have known him for a very long time.
“To be working with him again is a prospect I am very excited about.
“Him and Paul gave me my first taste of league football and that’s something I will always be thankful to them for and hopefully I can pay Gary back now, that I am bit older and a bit wiser, with goals.
“I was a 19-year-old footballer trying to make their way in the game and him and Paul took a risk on me essentially.
“I was a young kid at Wolves and I will always be thankful to them for what they did for me.”
The Derby squad have got a few days off now before preparations for next Friday’s Sky Bet Championship campaign resumes after the international break with a home game against Hull City at Pride Park Stadium.
Assessing the squad in place, Winnall says the quality that Rowett has in place was another reason he wanted to join.
He said: “A whirlwind is probably the best way to describe it. I didn’t hear about the possibility of coming here until about 1pm this afternoon and I’m just really thankful that we have got it over the line before that deadline.
“I’m very excited. I know about the quality that is within this squad and it was something that I wanted to join and add to.
“I’m sure with the quality we have got in the squad we can be successful together.”