Preston North End new boy Tom Barkhuizen believes he repaid the faith shown in him by manager Jim Bentley during his time at Morecambe.
The former Shrimps winger has agreed to join the Lilywhites, signing a pre-contract agreement at Deepdale which means he will be eligible to play from January 1.
The two clubs have struck a compensation deal, Morecambe having retained their right to claim training compensation when cancelling his contract by mutual consent a fortnight ago.
Bentley, who admitted it was a big blow to lose his star man as his side struggle for form in League Two, took Barkhuizen from Blackpool in the summer of 2015 and saw him quickly become one of the division’s attacking stars.
“I think my relationship with Jim over the last 18 months has been a really good and I know he’s disappointed I’ve left,” said Barkhuizen.
“It is what it is. I’m grateful to him for taking the opportunity to take me and I feel with my performances I’ve repaid him.
“I had a good 18 months there.
“Personally it went very well.
“Last year I played a lot of games which I was what I really needed because I hadn’t had that for three years.
“This season I’ve feel like I’ve started the season well.
“I’ve played nearly every game this season and scored a few goals and it gives me confidence that I’m coming in here (Preston) on the back of good form.”
Confidence hasn’t always been a given for the versatile winger.
He believes he needed his spell with Morecambe to rebuild after seeing his time at hometown club Blackpool end with a whimper.
“When I was younger I struggled with confidence massively and I think with the situation that was going on at Blackpool at the time that I just needed to go and play regularly,” said the 23-year-old.
“I always knew that I had the ability to do it, I just needed the consistency.
“I feel like my game, especially this season, has become a lot more consistent.
“I feel like I’m ready for the challenge.”
Barkhuizen, who started his career as a trainee with the Seasiders where he worked with PNE first team coach Steve Thompson, scored 17 goals in 64 appearances during his time at the Globe Arena having initially spent a month on loan with Bentley’s men.
He came to the attention of North End fans when he scored for the Shrimps against PNE in July’s pre-season friendly.