NEW Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele admits the chance to compete with and train alongside his childhood hero Paul Robinson was too good to turn down.
Steele knows he has not taken the easy option in accepting the challenge of going-to-head with former England star Robinson for the number one spot at Rovers.
But the 24-year-old, who completed his season-long loan move from Championship rivals Middlesbrough on deadline day, said: “It’s going to be a privilege to be able to train with him day in and day out.
“With the career that’s he had I can only get better with working with him.
“He’s been a top-class keeper for years and years now and it’s up to me to try and challenge him. Hopefully I can.
“But he’s had an absolutely fantastic career so it’s going to be tough for me.
“I could’ve gone to other places and maybe had an easier ride.
“But as soon as I spoke to the manager and the goalkeeper coach my mind was made up.”
After spending the best part of the last 10 months on the sidelines at Boro, Steele is desperate to get his promising career back on track.
After making his debut as a 19-year-old the former England youth international was a virtual ever present between the posts for the Riverside Stadium outfit until Aitor Karanka’s arrival in November.
Steele, who has represented England at U16, U17, U19 and U21 level, was sent off in Karanka’s first match as Boro boss and then went under the knife to cure an ankle problem.
But on his return to full fitness he found himself down the pecking order.
And when Karanka made it clear he could leave the club he has been at since he was 12 Steele jumped at the chance to join Rovers despite offers from elsewhere.
“I’ve been fit for the last six or seven months so it’s been tough going into training on a Monday morning knowing that I’m not going to be playing on a Saturday,” said Steele, who has made 155 senior club appearances, 131 of which have come in the Championship.
“It’s been gut-wrenching and I’m thankful I’ve got good family and good friends who have kept me going.
“But I’m excited to be here – it was the one club which really stood out for me.
“It’s that old cliché you always hear from footballers who sign for clubs in the Championship – it’s a Premier League club playing in the Championship.
“But without a shadow of a doubt this is what this club is and hopefully I can play my part in helping them get back there.”
Steele, who was a member of the Great Britain squad at the 2012 London Olympic Games, will be ineligible to play in Rovers’ league clashes with his parent club Boro on November 29 and December 28.