WILL BUCKLEY admits the collapse of his January move to Sunderland left him unsettled at former club Brighton.
Sunderland were hopeful of landing Buckley on transfer deadline day back in January after agreeing a fee with Brighton and personal terms with the player, before the Seagulls pulled out of the move at the last minute.
But Sunderland boss Gus Poyet – who worked with Buckley for two years at Brighton – maintained his interest and finally brought the winger to the Stadium of Light last week in a £2.5million deal.
Buckley’s attitude during pre-season was criticised by new Brighton boss Sami Hyypia, who claimed that the 24-year-old was not fully focused.
And Buckley is honest enough to admit that he found it tough during his final six months at the Amex Stadium after seeing his move to the Premier League fall through.
“I wanted to play in the Premier League and when Gus showed interest, obviously it turned my head straightaway,” he said.
“It was really close in January and it went right to the last day.
“I tried not to think about moving on because you can’t do that when you are playing week in and week out.
“But, at the end of the day, it probably does affect you because it is in the back of your mind.
“I tried to carry on as though I was going to be at Brighton for a long time, because I was under contract.
“But when clubs come in for you – especially from the Premier League – you do get a bit distracted, so it probably was at the back of my mind for the last part of last season.
“It has been a tough six months.
“It nearly happened in January, but I’m just glad it has happened now.”
Buckley was Poyet’s first signing as Brighton manager after arriving in a £1m move from Watford in the summer of 2011 and the Oldham-born wideman is glad to be reunited with the Uruguayan again.
“I played under Gus for two years at Brighton and I probably played my best football under him,” he said.
“That’s one of the big reasons why I came here.
“Everyone knows what he did as a player, but I have worked under him now for over two years and his passion just comes across to the players in a good way, and he just gets the best out of me and hopefully he improves players – that’s one of his qualities.”
Buckley made his Sunderland debut as a late substitute in last weekend’s 2-2 Premier League draw at West Brom after only completing his move to Wearside 48 hours earlier.
He added: “My first training session was last Thursday, so I got to meet the lads and then went straight into the game really.
“I think it makes it easier sometimes.
“We’re here to play football and you train one day and then the next and then you’re travelling down to the first big Premier League game.
“I was thrown straight in, but I thoroughly enjoyed it on Saturday.
“In the first half, I don’t think we played as well as we can, but, in the second half, we took control.
“After going 2-1 down, to come back and score late on and get the draw is a good result.
“We came away pleased but obviously knowing that we can perform a lot better.”
H Inter Milan eased to a 3-0 win at Icelandic shock troops Stjarnan in last night’s Europa League play-off first leg, thanks to goals from Mauro Icardi, Dodo and Danilo D’Ambrosio.