Barnsley: Steele hails fans after tough call to leave

Former Barnsley keeper Luke Steele
Former Barnsley keeper Luke Steele
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Former Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele has revealed just how much of a wrench it proved to be to leave Oakwell behind and head off for a new life in Greece.

Steele (29) signed for Greek giants Panathinaikos on Friday after six roller-coaster years with the Reds.

He made a dream debut in 2008, playing in the team which won at Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round having joined Barnsley on an emergency loan deal from West Brom.

Steele eventually joined the Reds permanently in the summer of 2008, and went on to make 227 appearances in total, winning the Player of the Year prize for the 2011/12 campaign.

After turning down offers to stay in the English Championship, Steele opted for an exciting new challenge in Greece, but he will clearly miss Yorkshire.

The Peterborough-born stopper said: “I’d like them [the fans] to know exactly how hard this decision was to make. “Because of what happened at the start of my career, and how long I stayed at Barnsley with the ups and downs, in the end it’s clear that I fell in love with the club.

“Leaving is huge and I want to thank all the fans for being so good with me from the start. Even through the difficult times they seemed to be so positive. Hopefully they saw that I gave 100 per-cent and I would like to thank every single one of them.”

The threadbare Reds, whose squad is now looking desperately short of senior players, lost their third straight pre-season friendly yesterday, 5-0 to Serie ‘A’ side Torino in Italy.

Last season’s club captain Martin Cranie, who didn’t travel to Italy, is apparently in talks with Blackpool over a move to Bloomfield Road, but the Reds have been linked with a move for former Fulham and Aston Villa centre-back Zat Knight (34), who was released by Bolton.

Trialist Will Hoskins played almost the full game against Torino, but boss Danny Wilson still hasn’t decided whether or not to offer the ex-Rotherham striker a contract.