NEWPORT County’s biggest signing in years, defender Chris Todd, admits he’s turned down a host of League Two and Conference clubs in a bid to help the Exiles back into the Football League.
The 28-year-old, who has never played football below the Conference level, has joined Newport on loan until the end of the season, but that is not the full story of a move that represents a huge coup for County.
Swansea native Todd has agreed in principal to stay with the Exiles next season (with the option of a possible year on top) and can sign for free in the summer as his contract with Torquay will have expired.
A dominant central defender, Todd played more than 60 games for hometown club Swansea City before moving to the southwest for spells with Exeter City and Torquay United, helping Torquay to promotion back into the Football League via the play-offs.
Todd has also shown incredible fighting spirit off the field, having fought back to re-start his football career after a battle with chronic myeloid leukemia, writing a blog about the experience for the BBC.
And now he’s ready to dedicate himself to Newport, having put his house in Clumpton (near Exeter) up for sale as he returns to the Principality with wife Gemma and young daughter Amelia.
Todd has been on loan at Salisbury City this term, regaining match fitness after his leukemia battle, scoring as recently as last week in a game against Oxford United.
However, despite being a fixture in League Two and the Conference, Todd is ecstatic to be heading to Newport.
"I can’t wait to step out in that amber shirt, I am a proud Welshman and the chance to help a Welsh club into the Conference and hopefully the Football League, that’s an absolutely tremendous challenge for me.
"I’ve had a number of other offers and interested clubs as well, but I’ve been sold on Newport by Dean Holdsworth and the supporters.
"I came down for the game on New Years Day and the atmosphere was brilliant, the fans are very passionate about the club. And the manager has impressed me a lot.
"I used to watch him as a kid on the television, he’s very impressive, ambitious and I want to play for him, I have every faith in him and the players already at the club, I want to help them get to the Conference."
Todd is no stranger to Gwent; his younger brother Jamie is a professional boxer who spent a year as part of the Team Calzaghe stable in Newbridge.
However, while younger brother has flown the nest and is now boxing in the US, for Chris, nothing can top a fresh start back in Wales.
"Coming back to Wales is a massive factor for me as well, I believe the club are going places, so everything has fallen into place," he said.
"Moving ‘home’ to Wales is huge for my family and we’ve had a tough year, my wife has of course been through a lot of emotions.
"Thankfully I am in remission now, it puts everything into perspective and it made me very focused on getting back into football as quickly as possible."
Manager Holdsworth could barely contain his delight after finally landing the player he’s been targeting for the best part of two months.
"We’ve worked hard to get Chris here, to sell the club to him and I am thrilled that he’s on board now and was so keen to come here," he said.
"Chris is a dominant centre back and he strengthens our squad and adds competition for the defenders.
"We’ve had him watched several times and all the reports have been fantastic."