Brian Said intends to spend the final years of his career with the club that nurtured his talent after agreeing a move to Luxol St Andrew’s.
The veteran defender had made it known last month that he was looking for a new challenge after his contract with Premier League club Floriana expired at the end of the season.
Despite reported interest from some top-flight clubs, Luxol were always seen as Said’s preferred destination as the former Malta international had expressed a desire to return to his first love in the latter stages of his career.
Although Said admitted that his affection for Luxol played a part in his decision to join them, he insisted that the club’s set-up and forward-looking philosophy were key factors behind his move.
“First and foremost, I want to enjoy my football and I’m convinced that I will be able to do that with Luxol,” Said, who was still a teenager when he made his senior debut for Luxol, told The Sunday Times.
“This is also a new challenge for me. I’m going to be part of a squad where most of the players are still very young and the team is in Division One.
“I will have to adjust to these new realities but I’m looking forward to it.
“The sentimental aspect influenced my decision to rejoin Luxol as I’ve always wanted to end my career with the club where I started but I wouldn’t say it was the main factor.
“The atmosphere and environment at Luxol are second to none and the set-up is Premier League level.
“I’m also happy to be reunited with Paul Falzon, the Luxol president, who was also at the helm of the club when I was here 21 years ago.”
At 37, Said is in the autumn of his career but he has not set a date for his retirement.
“I want to finish my career as a Luxol player but I don’t know when I’m going to stop,” Said observed. “As long as I’m fit and healthy, I will keep playing.”
Said’s switch to Luxol will be widely viewed as a boost to the club’s prospects of building on their positive campaign in Division One last season.
There have been whispers that Luxol are quietly fine-tuning their squad to make a strong push for promotion in 2011/12.
“I need more time to gauge the strength of the team,” Said replied when asked about Luxol’s promotion chances.
“I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. Coach Wayne Attard and his assistant Roger Walker have fostered an excellent atmosphere in the dressing room.
“Before coming here, I had read that Luxol have a talented squad and I believe we can be competitive in Division One this season.
“It has to be a gradual process because most of the players are young. But, if we make a strong start, I see no reason why Luxol can’t keep the pace with the leading teams.”
It remains to be seen whether Luxol have what it takes to battle for promotion but Said is determined to lead the club to that objective.
“My personal goal is to help Luxol get back into the Premier League,” Said stressed. “If it’s not this year, it has to be the year after but I want to see this club back to the place where it belongs.”
Said only started to train with Luxol recently after getting the go-ahead from Floriana. Although Said is out of contract, he still has to resolve some financial issues with the Greens.
His second stint with Floriana ended on a somewhat sour note as Said, who started 2010/11 as the club captain, didn’t see much first-team action in the final month of the season and was not in the starting line-up for the 1-0 win over Valletta in the final of the FA Trophy.
Said made no attempt to conceal his disappointment at his omission from the Floriana side in the final weeks of last season but he preferred to dwell on the positives.
“Overall, I enjoyed my two spells with Floriana,” Said reflected. “I made a lot of friends there. It was only in the last month of last season that I encountered a few setbacks at Floriana but I’ve always moved on.
“I had already achieved a personal victory by making a comeback after I had suffered rib fractures during a pre-season friendly.
“I want to thank Todor Raykov, Floriana’s former coach, for his faith in me, and president Johan Said. I also feel obliged to mention two people who have given a lot to Floriana throughout the years, John Borg and Joe Cauchi. They have remained loyal to the club, always willing to contribute without expecting nothing in return.”