Lee Frecklington said it was “the obvious choice” to return to Sincil Bank after re-joining Lincoln City on a two-and-a-half year deal.
The experienced midfielder, who came through the academy at Lincoln before spells with Peterborough United and Rotherham United, is back at the club from the Millers for an undisclosed fee.
He was unveiled as an Imp alongside academy scholar Ellis Chapman in front of an SRP Suite packed with supporters and press.
And despite interest from Mansfield Town, whose manager, Steve Evans, Frecklington played under at Rotherham, he said he would only have left the Millers for one club.
He said: “It’s been a difficult decision (to leave Rotherham) but football moves very quickly. If I was ever going to leave Rotherham, there was only one place I wanted to be.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Steve Evans, and I enjoyed playing under him. But when it comes to a football decision, if you’re asking me would I rather go to Mansfield Town or Lincoln City, the obvious choice is here.
“I’m delighted that Danny and Nicky have given me the opportunity to be here and I’m excited to be back.”
For manager Danny Cowley, it was an opportunity to bring in a player of quality that he couldn’t pass up.
He said: “When we realised there was a possibility to bring Lee to the club we did everything we could to make that happen.
“For us, as a newly promoted League Two club, very rarely do you get the opportunity to sign a top League One player who’s captain of his club.
“There was an offer from another League Two club late in the day yesterday and we thought that might affect things, but Lee’s heart is with Lincoln. He wants to be here and it’s so refreshing that he’s put his football before finance. He’s chosen to come home and we’re proud of that.”
With Frecklington named club captain at Rotherham before his departure, Cowley says he has great leadership skills and that he signed the player for his personality as well as his footballing ability.
“We always sign the people before the player, but particularly when you’re signing senior players you’ve got to make sure they’re the right characters. Lee will be as big for us off the pitch as he will be on it.
“He’s played at Championship level and been a very good Championship player. We’ve got a lot of young players that will aspire to that so the way Lee conducts himself and his ability to carry our message will be very important. We’ll certainly be tapping into all of his leadership qualities.”
One of those young players to whom Cowley referred is Chapman, who signed his first professional deal with the club.
The 17-year-old made his first team debut in the Checkatrade Trophy earlier this season, and said it has always been one of his dreams to sign a professional deal at his home town club.
He said: “I joined Leicester after my under-15s stage and got offered a scholarship there, but I turned it down. I’m a home boy and I love Lincoln so I always wanted to come back and play for the club.
“It’s important that I try my best to break through to invite more talented youngsters to come to the club. If they see me break through it can hopefully inspire more young players to want to work hard to get into the first team.”
Cowley says the youngster has a big future at Lincoln and hailed the day as a special one for the club. “If we can realise Ellis’ potential, and there’s a responsibility on everyone here to do that, Ellis included, then it will hopefully encourage the best players in and around the Lincoln area to want to play for Lincoln City.
“If they see a pathway they’ll want to be part of it. We’ve got Ellis starting his career here and what a great mentor he’s going to have in Lee.
“Ellis has now Lee, Alex Woodyard and Michael Bostwick. They’re great role models for him to look up to, to learn from and develop further.”