Chris Perry has revealed how he intends to repay West Bromwich Albion for removing him from limbo with a swift return to the Premiership.
The 33-year-old centre-half became the second summer recruit to The Hawthorns to follow the addition of John Hartson last week.
The former Charlton Athletic defender, who has signed a two-year deal, stands 12th in the all-time Premiership appearance list with 362 games under his belt. Despite playing more than 30 times for Charlton last season, Perry was released following the arrival of Iain Dowie as manager.
"Not knowing where I was going was really difficult," admitted Perry, who was also being courted by Birmingham City and a number of other clubs.
"I even wondered if I was ever going to play again. Albion made me a fantastic offer, however. I have originally signed for two years but I believe that I could play on for a couple more years after that. I have had no major injuries and am feeling as fit as I have done for ten years."
While Perry, whose previous clubs also include Wimbledon and Tottenham Hotspur, has always played in the Premiership, he is ready to embrace the challenge of the Championship.
With Thomas Gaardsoe and Neil Clement recovering from groin and knee operations respectively, the only fit centre-halves at The Hawthorns are Perry and Curtis Davies. Nevertheless, Perry isn't counting his chickens.
"I haven't discussed with the manager whether I am playing or not yet," he said. "I don't know what he is looking to do but if I do start with Curtis, then I will look to help him as much as I can.
"He is a fantastic young defender and this is a really good move for me from a career point of view.
"The mood around the ground is upbeat and my aim is to only spend one year out of the Premiership.
"I don't know too much about the Championship but it looks like a tough proposition. I can't wait to start playing, however, and meeting the lads on Thursday [when pre-season training begins]."
Albion manager Bryan Robson has heralded Perry's capture as a real coup. As with Davies last summer, Albion have beaten Blues to the punch over a centre-half both clubs were tracking and Robson is delighted to add another piece to the jigsaw he believes is going to lead the club to promotion.
"To get Chris on a free transfer is an excellent acquisition," said Robson.
"I'm very pleased because I was a little bit surprised when I heard Charlton were letting him go.
"He's very quick and reads the game very well - that's why he's always played in the Premiership. His experience and knowledge of the game will hold us in good stead for next season.
"If everything goes according to plan and Steve Watson re-signs, he can also play there, so we'll have great competition."
Whoever starts the season in central defence for Albion will have to be an early bird, after kick-off times for five of their fixtures were changed to lunchtime starts.
Both Black Country derby clashes with Wolverhampton Wanderers will take place on Sundays at noon, at the request of West Midlands Police.
Wolves visit The Hawthorns on October 22 and Albion will travel to Molineux on March 11. Due to the latter fixture being moved to a Sunday, Albion's home match with Crystal Palace has also been put back 24 hours to Wednesday, March 14 (ko 7.45pm).
Also on police advice, Albion's two games against Blues will now both kick off at noon. The St Andrew's encounter is on Saturday October 28, with the reverse fixture on Saturday March 17.
* Albion have reduced ticket prices for their only home pre-season friendly. Real Sociedad are the visitors on Sunday July 30 (ko 3pm) before Hull start Albion's Championship campaign six days later.
Prices for the friendly are #15 for adults in the East and Halfords Lane stands, #10 for adults in the Birmingham Road and Smethwick Ends and #5 concessions all around the ground. Tickets for Albion's other six pre-season fixtures will be available on the gate.