For weeks he has been appearing on social-media sites in Rotherham United colours and now Aimen Belaid can at last wear the red and white for real.
Photographs of the 27-year-old Tunisian international posing at AESSEAL New York Stadium found their way on to Twitter and Facebook last month, but the Millers were unable to announce the deal until yesterday when they finally received international clearance.
He has been training with them and has played in private matches so the Championship club hope the centre-half, who is in contention for a debut in the FA Cup at Leeds United today, will hit the ground running.
“The ideal scenario is that he finds his feet early,” manager Neil Redfearn said. “He covers one or two positions, but he needs to nail down one position. He has played in a couple of games and he looks the part.
“He’s the right age. He’s very athletic and he’s got pace. He’s naturally left-footed. He gives you balance,”
The French-born defender is predominantly a centre-back but can also operate at left-back or in midfield.
Belaid said: “It was my target to have a chance to play in England, I will give everything. I hope everything will be right for me and people will be happy with me.
“The players are really nice persons. They have been really nice to me.”
Belaid became Rotherham’s second arrival in the January transfer window, preceded by the loan capture of Manchester City right-back Shay Facey, and a third was quickly added when the Millers took former Leeds goalkeeper Alex Cairns until the end of the season.
“I am delighted to be here,” said the 23-year-old who made one appearance for the West Yorkshire giants and whose short-term deal with Chesterfield had come to an end.
“I have enjoyed training with the boys and I am really pleased to get started. I know Paul Green from my time at Leeds and one or two others, so that has made for an easy transition.”
This afternoon pits Redfearn against his former club who are now managed by ex-Rotherham boss Steve Evans.
“It will be a tough game,” the Millers manager said. Leeds are on a good run of form. Having said that, they have not won in three - we have. I think it’s a game we can look forward to. On our day, we can win.”
Rotherham won 1-0 at Elland Road 1-0 in the league, and Redfearn added: “That would have hurt Steve, I’m pretty sure it would have done. To be fair to Steve, his side have bounced back and have been in a bit of form. They are playing with confidence.”
Evans said: “It will be a tough afternoon. Rotherham have got many good players, I’ve always maintained that – players who will go to the 95th minute if that’s what it takes and be organised and efficient under Neil.
Meanwhile, he has admitted for the first time that he regrets wearing a sombrero at Elland Road on the final day of last season when he was still in charge of the Millers who had just secured their second-tier survival.
“I made a silly comment at the time saying if we stayed up against Reading I would turn up at Elland Road in my beach gear,” he recalled. “I don’t think it did me any favours, but for reasons of charity and other things it went ahead.
“But it won’t be about that on Saturday. This is a serious game. There was nothing resting on the game when I came here like that.”