Barnsley’s top scorer last term Chris O’Grady has revealed that the opportunity to stay in the Sky Bet Championship by joining Brighton and Hove Albion was simply too good to turn down.
Nottingham-born O’Grady, who moved to Oakwell last summer from Sheffield Wednesday after an initial successful loan spell, was the Reds’ talisman almost throughout a miserable 2013/14 campaign.
It ended with a dismal relegation after seven topsy-turvy seasons in the second tier, but O’Grady scored 15 times and was voted the club’s Player of the Year.
The 28-year-old scored 21 times for Barnsley in total, but once Brighton came calling - totally out of the blue - O’Grady didn’t have to think twice before signing for Sammy Hyypia’s south coast outfit.
“I was in Italy with Barnsley, but as soon as I found out Brighton wanted to sign me, I was on the first plane back to England,” said O’Grady.
“While I would have stayed with Barnsley, the Championship is where I feel I deserve to be playing.
“To have joined a club of Brighton’s stature is something I’m very proud of, as it shows I must have been doing something right.=”
O’Grady linked up with the Seagulls after passing a medical. He signed a three-year contract.
The undisclosed fee the Reds received is reported to have been £500,000.
O’Grady added: “It’s been fantastic to get the chance to join a club with such big ambitions, and to be joining during the peak of my career.”
* The future of Reds’ club captain Martin Cranie appears unclear. He was reported to have been in talks with Championship outfit Blackpool with a view to a move to Bloomfield Road, but Seasiders chiefs have issued a media blackout amid speculation that manager Jose Riga’s own position at the club may be under threat.