Newport County’s new central defender, Tony James, isn’t daunted by the prospect of filling Gary Warren’s boots... because he was born to play for the Exiles.
The 33-year-old former Burton and Hereford defender will link up with his new team-mates at pre-season training next week knowing that his career has now come full circle.
The former Welsh semi-pro international is no stranger to Newport or the surrounding areas, having grown up in Cwmbran, and he admits he feels like he’s fulfilling a destiny in returning to South Wales.
A keen social media exponent, James has already changed his Twitter picture to the Exiles’ badge and admits to the Argus he feels he’s made a special move.
“As a kid you dream of being a professional footballer and for me those dreams were formulated on the pitches in Cwmbran and around Newport, I grew up with football here,” he said.
“When I met Justin Edinburgh I wanted to get a good feel for things because in my heart I knew it would be a great move to come back to where it all started.
“Newport County is a club with great potential and I am thrilled to be here. It feels like coming home.”
James insists he wouldn’t have signed on for a season at Rodney Parade based on nostalgia alone, believing the Exiles can make a vast improvement on their previous campaign where they flirted with relegation.
James was promoted from the Conference with both Hereford and Burton, and feels Newport can match that achievement.
“I see no reason why we can’t compete at the top end of this division, the manager is ambitious and he’s made some quality signings,” he said. “I actually see a lot of similarities between Newport and Hereford. At Hereford we managed to get up and stay up and the potential is there at Newport too.”
James admits fan power at County is already impressing him.
“You only have to look at how many fans Newport took to Wembley (for the FA Trophy final) to see that the appetite is there to achieve success.
“The new ground seems excellent and we need to make it into a fortress.”
James is aware of the big shoes he is filling.
“It’s a shame that Gary Warren didn’t stay but I know of (Ismail) Yakubu, who won the league also with Wimbledon and I am looking forward to playing with him and the other defenders,” he said. “Justin Edinburgh has sold me on his vision for the club and I can’t wait to get going. I had plenty of options but once I knew Newport were in for me I felt like I knew what I wanted to do.
“I live in Hereford but this feels like going home.”