Craig Westcarr has revealed Pompey’s ambition persuaded him to snub four League One clubs in favour of dropping down a division.
The 29-year-old was surprisingly released by Walsall last season after netting 16 times in England’s third tier – his best-ever goal return.
That eye-catching scoring feat ensured he was eagerly pursued by a number of clubs from the same level, including Port Vale.
Yet it was the Blues who Westcarr favoured, opting to move into League Two in the process.
A versatile striker, the ex-Nottingham Forest apprentice will provide boss Andy Awford with goals and positional options having signed a two-year deal.
And he is relishing the forthcoming campaign with a club which won him over with their footballing vision.
‘This is a big club, with big ambitions now and it’s definitely going to be a club on the way up,’ said Westcarr.
‘I want us to have a winning mentality and a good team spirit. If that can be achieved we can push higher than where we finished last year.
‘There were four clubs in League One and two in League Two looking at me and I spoke to them all.
‘But when I spoke to Mark (Catlin) and the manager, they told me what their plans are to do with the club and I thought it would be a good challenge for me.
‘It didn’t bother me dropping down a division. Obviously, ideally, I would have liked to have stayed in League One but I had a lot of time to think about what they had to say and it all made sense.
‘It was brilliant hearing the club’s aims and now it’s great to feel part of it and feel like we are going to go somewhere next season.
‘I am definitely impressed with the ambitions – there are going to be a few more coming in as well so hopefully things are looking up.’
Westcarr joins Paul Jones and Danny Hollands in leaving a higher division to line-up for Pompey in the approaching season.
In addition, Nicky Shorey and Jed Wallace have penned new deals as Awford’s squad evolves.
The Hawks’ Nigel Atangana is also in Pompey’s sights as they close in on a switch for the central midfielder.
Awford is also chasing a goalkeeper, a central defender, another midfielder and a striker at the very minimum.
In the meantime, Westcarr has signed up for the Pompey boss’ masterplan, following a Saddlers departure which stunned their supporters.
‘It was a thing where me and the manager (Dean Smith) spoke, just an amicable chat, and we parted ways,’ added Westcarr.
‘I think most were surprised I wasn’t offered anything but he said he was going to go a different way, whatever that is.
‘You just have to respect that – it’s football, it happens.
‘Now I am delighted to be here and am looking forward to the challenge.’