Video: ‘I will thrive on the pressure’ – Russell Penn on his return to York City

Gray looking forward to working with 'warrior' Penn. Photograph: Antony Higgs

Returning York City midfielder Russell Penn is happy to be back at Bootham Crescent – and is ready for the pressures of inspiring the club to promotion next season.

The 32-year-old signed on the dotted line from Gateshead on Tuesday (May 8) to become Martin Gray’s first summer signing at the club.

Penn has remained living in the area since leaving the City after more than 100 appearances two years ago, and the midfielder says he always felt he would come back to the club eventually.

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/uJyHc40UeHY” mode=”lazyload” title=”Watch: Russell Penn returns to York City” /]

Speaking to YorkMix, Penn said that he is hoping his return will pay off in the long term for the Minstermen, and is ready to handle the pressure from the fans to end the exile in National League North. He said:

It’s fantastic. Two years away from the club has made me feel more wanted. I’ve always loved the club and I still lived in the area so that was a big pull to come back this summer.

I’ve had two decent years away from the club, but I’ve always lived in the area, so I always hear news every day and I still come to games. I’m just really pleased that something has been sorted for me to come back.

Players thrive on pressure, or certainly I do anyway. There is no more pressure than that from the fans, they want results, and hopefully I will be able to help them get that.

There is a new stadium next year, last season at Bootham Crescent, it’s history really. We can’t really get lower than we are at the moment, so long term hopefully this move will be the right thing for myself and the club.

A great asset

Gray wants leaders, and Penn fits that category. Photograph © Ian Parker / Ice Photography

York City manager Martin Gray has long talked about wanting more mentally tough leaders in his squad – particularly since his side’s collapse in form towards the end of last season.

And Penn is just that sort of player.

Gray pointed out that Penn is the first of a number of new signings expected to walk through the door this week, and says he is striving to get the right balance in the rebuilt squad.

“We need leadership alongside Simon Heslop,” the manager told YorkMix. “We need experienced players that can stand up and be counted for and understand what the game’s about over the 46 games.

“Russell gives you all of those ingredients and I’m delighted to get a player who still has so much energy and has a great affinity with the club and its fans.”

Gray called the player a “great asset”.

“You need creativity and flare, but you also need your warriors as well.

“It’s just about getting the balance right and hopefully in the next 48 hours we will make some more announcements that will excite people.”