Lewis Alessandra has revealed why he turned down offers from elsewhere to join Hartlepool United – a club he insists is on the up.
The 27-year-old former Plymouth Argyle and Rochdale forward is a key piece of manager Craig Hignett’s Pools jigsaw for the 2016-17 season.
And Manchester-born Alessandra, who wanted to remain in the north, admits he was won over by Hignett’s enthusiasm and vision.
“I had a couple of offers, but I want to stay in the north,” Alessandra said.
“I left Plymouth for geographical reasons, I want to be up here.
“The gaffer has his philosophy and he has impressed me and it is good to be here; it is a challenge I’m looking forward to.
“I appreciated the fact that the gaffer drove to Manchester with Curtis Fleming to see me and that showed the desire to get me to come here, which was impressive.
“I had a year left at Rochdale and I want to play football so there was a few things to sort out but now I’m delighted to be here.
“I’m impressed with what the manager said and the signings he’s made, it’s a club on the up.”
Versatile Alessandra sought advice from one current Pools star and one former defender before committing to the Victoria Park outfit.
He played with Nathan Thomas at Plymouth Argyle, while Alessandra is also good pals with Peter Hartley.
Positive words from both helped convince Alessandra that Pools was the right move for him.
“I know Nathan from my time at Plymouth, I spoke to him after I met the gaffer and he only had good things to say,” said Alessandra.
“Nath being here was a big factor in me coming here and I know what a talent he is.
“It was all positive what he said.
“I know Padraig Amond and a few of the lads from playing against them and I’m also good friends with Peter Hartley and sounded him out and I only got good feedback from him.
“The gaffer has said we will have a real good go, he’s told me the way he works and the way he operates and I hope we can do well.”
Alessandra started his career with Oldham Athletic, where he averaged a goal every four games, before joining Morecambe ahead of a productive two-season spell at Plymouth, where he bagged 25 goals in 101 appearances.
His subsequent switch to Rochdale 12 months ago did not work out, with Alessandra ending the season on loan at relegated York City.
He is now looking to get back to his attacking best.
“I moved to Rochdale last summer, but the season was stop-start,” added Alessandra.
“If one manager doesn’t like you then another might and that’s just football and how it is.
“I accepted how it was and went to York to play games and I enjoyed the chance to play week in, week out again.
“[Relegation] obviously wasn’t the outcome we all wanted, but it happened.”