New Mansfield Town signing Rhys Bennett is determined to achieve his dream of playing Premier League football by helping the Stags to success.
The 25-year-old defender, who signed for Stags from Rochdale last week, started out at Bolton Wanderers when they were a top flight side, but was released by Owen Coyle without a first team appearance to his name.
Then in 2014/15 Everton were reported to be keeping tabs on his progress with a £1m price tag mooted.
However, the out-of-contract defender, who helped Rochdale to promotion from League Two, said he was delighted to now have the chance to help Stags do the same.
“I am very happy to sign here,” he said. “I was obviously pleased to meet the manager and hear his thoughts and his aspirations for the season for the club, himself, and for me.
“I agree with what he is saying and I think this is the place to be for me.
“We want to try to get promoted and, as a player, I want as much success as I can.
“I am nearly 25 now so I have a lot of experience in terms of football and winning games. I know this league and how to get out of it so it will help the younger lads and everyone else as a team and a club to get to the next level. That’s what I want to do.”
Bennett began his career at then-Premier League side Bolton Wanderers after signing professional terms at 18-years-old and went on to captain the reserve team on a regular basis.
After spending a year on loan at Scottish side Falkirk, Bennett left Bolton at the end of the 2011/12 season and signed a one-year contract with Rochdale. But the ambition to play Premier League football still burns brightly.
“I think I can play at that level but I have got to prove that to the fans here and to myself,” he said. “At the same time I don’t think I have anything to prove really. I think I am a good player and I think I can get to the top.
“It was brilliant (at Bolton). I’d love to get back there one day as a player. “The experience of training with good players, international players, was great for me and hopefully I can transfer that experience here.”
The defender, who is comfortable at right back, centre back and defensive midfield, quickly became a regular in Dale’s side and scored the club’s Goal of the Season during the 2012/13 campaign for an incredible solo effort against York City.
After recovering from an injury which kept him sidelined for the final six weeks of that campaign, Bennett became an important part of the Rochdale side which won promotion from League Two in 2013/14.
He then enjoyed arguably the best season of his career in League One as he went on to make 39 league appearances as Dale secured an exceptional eighth-place finish in the 2014/15 campaign.
Explaining how Bury achieved their promotion, he said: “It was togetherness first and foremost and consistency in performances away from home and at home.
“Basically you just have to give the best account of yourself every day in training and for every game. That is basically what breeds success.”
Although versatile, Bennett intends to make the right back shirt his own at the One Call Stadium.
“I’ve had conversations with the manager and he wants me to play right back,” he said. “I think that’s a decent position for myself moving forward.
“If I was to count my games I have probably spent more at right back than anywhere else. It’s a position I feel I know and am 100 per cent comfortable with and I know I can progress there.”
He added: “I think I am a decent character and can help bring the team together. I want to train and play at my best and hopefully that will rub off on the younger players. It is a work ethic.
“I play with a smile on my face. I give 100 per cent. I like to play football. I am big and quite quick.
“I just want to play football and enjoy football. I know if I am enjoying it and I’m doing well and the club is doing well then that’s basically all that matters.
“I am really happy to be here. If I am playing 100 per cent in the same position hopefully it will bring success for the club and success for me.”