New Linfield signing Bastien Hery says he's relishing his fresh challenge with the Blues after making an emotional exit from Waterford.
The 27-year-old French midfielder arrives at Windsor Park as part of a player plus cash switch involving striker Michael O'Connor joining Waterford on loan until the end of their season.
Hery has agreed a two-year contract for an undisclosed fee, subject to international clearance, and it's a significant transfer coup by boss David Healy, whose side return to competitive action against Rosenborg in a Champions League qualifier at Windsor Park tonight.
The big midfielder, who was born in Paris, began his career with US Torcy before moving into the Paris Saint-Germain ranks.
He made the move to England where he linked up with Sheffield Wednesday, Rochdale, Carlisle United and Accrington Stanley before moving to Limerick and then Waterford.
A series of impressive performances established him as one of the best players in the south and he's excited about this new chapter in his career.
"Linfield is something different for me and playing in the Champions League is an exciting opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it," said Hery, who played for the France Under-18 side.
"I've loved being part of Waterford for the past 18 months. It's been a great experience and a huge part of my career to play for the club. The club, the fans and the town have made me feel so welcome from day one.
"Being so far from home, I can never thank everyone enough.
"From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone; from the coaches, to the staff, to my team-mates this season and last who have been like my family, and the fans who have spurred the entire team on."
Healy said: "He's a player I've long admired and a player we've identified as someone we'd love to bring to Windsor Park.
“He’s a top quality midfielder and a highly experienced player who will add real finesse to our squad.
“He’s a terrific addition to our squad and he’s very keen to come on board with us.
“He’s in the middle of the league season down south and I’ve no doubt he will fit easily into our squad and be welcomed as a very significant signing by everyone at the club.
“I want to thank our board for giving me the backing to sign a player who I’m really looking forward to starting to work with in the near future.
“He’s a player well known to our recruitment and development manager Willie McKeown, and I want to thank him for his efforts in helping to get this signing over the line.”
Linfield chairman Roy McGivern is also thrilled with the new arrival.
“I am delighted that we have secured the signing of Bastien Hery from Waterford,” said McGovern.
“He is undoubtedly a quality player and one that we have admired for some time.
“Our head of recruitment, Willie McKeown, has watched Bastien on numerous occasions and he has been highly recommended to us.
“I am looking forward to seeing him in a Linfield jersey and it is another exciting signing for the club as we prepare for the challenges of a new season.
“I would also wish Michael O’Connor well in his loan spell at Waterford.
“He made a valuable contribution to our league title success last season.”