Burns ecstatic as friend Michael Carvill joins him at Crusaders
Danske Bank Premiership
Billy Joe Burns says he's thrilled that the persuasive powers he used to encourage his good pal Michael Carvill to sign for Crusaders have produced the desired result.
Carvill has signed a three-year deal at Seaview after deciding to leave Linfield and seek a new challenge.
The 27-year-old had several options on the table but Crues boss Stephen Baxter and his former Blues team-mate Burns were desperate to bring him to the Shore Road.
Carvill and Burns were part of three double-winning sides at Linfield and Billy Joe admits he couldn't believe it when he heard his old comrade was not enjoying life at Windsor Park.
"Michael is one of the top players in the league and I was very surprised he was being left on the bench at Linfield," said right-back Burns.
"For six years he was possibly the most consistent player at the Blues and I don't know how you can go from that standard and playing up to 50 matches a season to struggling to get into the team.
"I know the qualities he is bringing to our team and I'm delighted he's on board."
After discovering the former Wrexham man was feeling the blues across town, Burns, who is still celebrating Crusaders' first title triumph in 18 years, was straight on the phone to the gaffer.
He added: "I'm good mates with Michael and I got chatting to him at the end of the season.
"Once I found out his contract talks had stalled at Linfield I was straight on the phone to Stephen (Baxter) and we could not believe a player of Michael's ability could become available.
"Michael is a stand out player and a real match winner and any club would be interested in him. Come the end of the season I was able to talk to him further and tell him how much I've enjoyed my time at Crusaders and the relationships that have been built up between players and the fans, who have been fantastic.
"In my first year at Linfield I got to know Michael and others including Robbie Garrett and a few of us were on full-time deals then. We grew up there together and enjoyed many great times.
"Five or six top clubs in the Premiership would have been interested in signing Michael as well as a few in the south and rightly so because on his day he can produce a bit of magic and Crusaders have been on the receiving end of that."
Carvill's arrival will be viewed by some as a sign that Young Player of the Year Gavin Whyte is destined for bigger things across the water.
Whyte enjoyed a trial at Everton at the end of the season, an adventure that fuelled his cross-channel dream.
Burns added: "I don't know whether Gavin will get his move across the water - I hope he does but you always need healthy competition for places and the club needs strength in depth.
"There can be no complacency and even after winning a league title a club needs to strengthen and we are doing that which is pleasing.
"I'm confident the club can taste more success because we are adding real quality and if you want to stay competitive in the league you have to keep adding talent like Michael who is a ready made player.
"Stephen has made great signings again in Michael, Andy Mitchell and Jordan Forysthe."
Crusaders chairman Stephen Bell hailed Carvill's arrival, saying: "Michael Carvill is a fantastic signing.
"He is a winner and a natural goal scorer and he will fit in with the team with few problems.
"It is brilliant that Michael has chosen to sign with us given the amount of clubs interested in his signature and again it shows the intent that Stephen Baxter has to bring yet more silverware to Seaview that he has captured such a quality player."