Kevin Phillips hasn’t given up on playing in the Premier League, despite rejecting the chance to return to the top flight with West Bromwich Albion in favour of a two-year deal with Birmingham City.
The 34-year-old striker was Albion’s top scorer last season but turned down a one-year contract offer. Phillips accepts his ambition may be questioned in some quarters but he insists he can still finish his career in the Premier League with Blues.
“I’d love another crack at the Premier League,” he said. “I had the opportunity at West Brom and maybe people will criticise me for that, but I felt I’d have probably spent all the time on the bench. Now I’ve got an opportunity to come here and play regular football.
“I’m not saying that I’ll be playing week in and week out but I’m sure I’ll play more football than I would have at West Brom and, at this stage of my career, that is important.
“If it wasn’t going to happen at West Brom, then this was an ideal move for me. It’s a big club. Yes, they’ve got relegated but I feel that if they can keep hold of the key players, as we did at West Brom, then we’ve got a fantastic opportunity of gaining promotion.”
Phillips, who has joined a small band of men to play for Blues, Aston Villa and Albion, said he had plenty of options - Barnsley had also offered a lucrative two-year deal - but decided on Blues after two conversations with manager Alex McLeish.
“He was very keen for me to join,” Phillips said. “He explained what he is looking for this season and that I am going to be a major part of the club’s push for promotion.
“A big factor for me was that I didn’t have to move house. There were other clubs interested but it would have been a case of uprooting the family. We’ve just bought a new house in the area which I didn’t want to leave and the kids are settled in school.
“I’m delighted to sort out my future. It’s been a tough summer. Obviously, I’ve missed my first week’s training which is not always ideal because you’re playing catch-up. I’ll be looking to put in some hard graft now but I’m delighted that it’s all done and dusted and now I can concentrate on the season ahead.”
Phillips is McLeish’s second signing of the summer after midfielder Lee Carsley joined on a free transfer from Everton. Both are in the twilight of their careers but Phillips believes he still has it in him to repeat last season’s goalscoring feats. He scored 24 goals, 22 in the Championship, and believes he can end Blues’s long wait for a 20-goal striker.
“With the players that we’ve got here, I’m sure they’ll create chances in this league,” he said. It’s a tough league but there is quality here and we stand an excellent chance.
“I’m still hungry for the game. I look after myself and I’m still fit. I’d love to be part of a Birmingham team that gained promotion and be up there as top goalscorer again.”