EXILE of the year Paul Bignot is today a Championship player and admits the past two years of his career have been “like a fairytale.”
The right back and Argus player of the season last night penned a deal to join Blackpool in what the Argus understands is a fee in excess of £100,000 with add-ons, including a hefty sell-on clause.
And having patiently waited as a potential move to Leicester City fell through, Bignot admits he’s in dreamland today after moving up three divisions.
While County begin their season at Rockingham Road with 1,700 seats, Bignot will begin life in the Championship next Friday as the Tangerines visit Hull City’s KC Stadium, with a capacity 25,000 crowd expected.
“I know it’s the ultimate football cliché but the last two years of my career have been like a fairytale,” said Bignot. “I am living my dreams and I can’t believe what has happened really.
“When I joined Newport County they were relegation threatened in the Conference South and I wasn’t considered good enough for Crewe or Kidderminster.
“Since then I’ve had the best two years of my career, winning the league with Newport and then last season when I picked up all the awards for player of the season.
“And now I am a Championship player at a club just out of the Premier League.
“I can’t begin to explain what it means to me, it’s just an incredibly special feeling.”
Bignot signed for Blackpool on the same day as they completed the capture of Barry Ferguson, the former Scotland captain and a player who has commanded transfer fees of almost £10 million in his career.
Bignot admits that is a strange feeling and also lifted the lid on why he’s going to be turning out at Bloomfield Road and not Leicester’s King Power Stadium.
“Speaking to you now I’ve not long signed my contract and signing on the same day as Barry Ferguson, a Scotland legend, it brings it all home,” he said.
“I am thrilled to join Blackpool and it all happened quickly.
“I got the call on Sunday night after playing for County against Stoke, travelled up for training on Monday and then played against Rangers on the Tuesday.
“I spoke to Ian Holloway and he’s just one of those managers you love to play for.
“He told me he’d done his homework on me, liked my character, rated me as a player and from then on, there was no doubt where I wanted to go.
“The thing with Leicester was the deal never actually fell through. I thought I’d done really well up there, they told me I did well and told me to sit tight and they’d come in for me. But that never happened.”
Bignot paid tribute to Newport and in particular Dean Holdsworth for resurrecting his career.
“Everyone at Newport, from the directors to Tim Harris and the brilliant supporters, they’ve been amazing with me,” he said.
“I am sad in a way to be leaving and hope the fans understand why I had to.
“I’ve truly loved being a Newport player and I wish the club all the best.”
Bignot’s move was celebrated by County managers past and present.
“Paul has been incredible since the transfer rumours started, he’s been the consummate professional and while we will miss him, I am thrilled for him,” current boss Anthony Hudson said.
And the manager who signed him, Dean Holdsworth, now at Aldershot, shared the delight.
“I’m very proud of Paul, all the hard work has paid off, he was part of a very special group,” he said.
Chairman Chris Blight hailed the move as his proudest day in football.
“It’s only really in the past 12 years that we’ve had anyone leave for a transfer fee and to have a player leave Newport to join a Championship club, I feel that reflects very well on us,” he said. “I would have to say this is my proudest day in football.”
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