JOHANNES Ertl is embarking on a new chapter in his footballing career after departing Sheffield United.
The 29-year-old was among the 11 players manager Danny Wilson released on Wednesday when he announced his retained list.
But the Austrian international has told The Star he has no intention of leaving England.
The midfielder, who can also operate at centre-back, is available on a free transfer and says clubs in his homeland and in Germany have expressed an interest in his signature.
However, Ertl is adamant he does not want to move abroad.
He said: “You can’t really beat English football for its passion and intensity. It is brilliant and my goal is to stay here for the next two to three years. My agent is in discussions with a number of clubs and I know there is interest from Germany and Austria but I am settled in England and I would ideally love to stay here. I played in the Championship for a season with United and I see no reason why I can’t play at that level again.
“I am open to offers and I am keeping my options open as I want to go to a club that shares the same ambition as I do.”
Ertl holds no grudges over his Bramall Lane exit.
“It is sad to leave United because it is a great club and I really enjoyed my time there,” he said. “I would like to thank everyone at the club for the help they have given me during my two years at the club.
“Everybody was really friendly with me and it is a great place to play football. It has been a privilege and an honour to play for United but it is time to move on and I am looking forward to a new challenge. I definitely want to get more games under my belt so this is the perfect time to move on.”
Graz-born Ertl suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in March 2011, an injury which kept him on the sidelines for eight months.
“You have to cope with these things as a professional footballer,” said Ertl. “It made me more determined to comeback and I worked really hard with the physio to get back and now I am 100 per cent fully fit and I just want to play as many games as I can.”
Under Danny Wilson, Ertl made just nine appearances, with six of his run-outs coming as a substitute.
“It was difficult because we were winning games all the time,” he admitted. “Everybody was doing a great job so I just had to bide my time. I started a couple of times in March but then I was left out. Of course I would have loved to have featured more because I had worked so hard to get back fit and I played a lot of reserve games.
“I was ready for selection but when the team is winning, it is hard to break through. Now I just want to prove myself again.”
DID YOU KNOW? Ertl played on 30 occasions as United dropped out of the Championship. “That was a huge disappointment for everyone,” he said. “We had five different managers, which didn’t help.”