MARQUEE Leeds United recruit Chris Wood says he is relishing the pressure of being the club’s most expensive signing in almost 13 years.
The 6ft 3in striker has arrived from Leicester City in a deal which could rise to the £3m mark, representing United’s biggest outlay since purchasing Nick Barmby from Liverpool for £2.75m in August 2002.
The New Zealand international, 23, who has signed a four-year contract, insists he is comfortable with the price tag and is determined to justify United’s investment when the Championship starts next month.
He admits he is also motivated by paying back the support and ‘love’ which he says he has received from United fans since news of the club’s interest broke at the weekend.
Wood said: “Of course, it is a nice sort of pressure. They are backing me, but of course, I feel like I back myself in the Championship.
“It might not happen overnight and I will have to gel with the team. But that’s why coming in at the start of pre-season will help out very well.
“Leeds showed their love. As a player, you can’t describe how much it feels to have someone who wants you here.
“In the last few days, you could see on social media that fans were very happy and hoping I would come here.
“To see that, you feel a sense of pride and think: ‘Yes, I want to be here.’
“That makes all the difference when you are turning up to a club new and you have people on your side, so you can build for the season.”
Despite being thrilled to finally join United, Wood admits he did plenty of homework regarding the behind-the-scenes situation at the club and left nothing to chance before deciding to join.
The Auckland-born striker, who started his career in England as a teenager with West Brom in 2009, has described the move as the biggest of his career with the club’s hierarchy and managerial team winning him over.
Wood said: “I didn’t think the club needed much selling. It was just behind the scenes, looking to see if it was on the right track and that’s when I saw that it was on the right track.
“If this club gets back in the Premier League it’s going to be one of the biggest clubs in the country.
“It’s got the fanbase already, it’s got the passion and the drive and you look at what it was 10 seasons ago, then it was really firing.”
Wood, who also did a spot of research on his future head coach Rosler, added: “I’ve done my home work on him too.
“Liam Moore back at Leicester worked under him at Brentford and I spoke to him and got a feel for what he’s like.
“He couldn’t have given a more glowing report, which was nice and when I spoke to him I got my own feel for him and he’s someone I really look forward to working under.”
Wood’s Premier League dream may not have worked out at Leicester, but he is fuelled by earning a second chance at Leeds, having watched the club on TV in the top-flight as a youngster Down Under.
Another Antipodean in Mark Viduka stole much of the limelight back then and Wood says those feats inspire him.
He added: “When I was a boy growing up, Leeds were in the Premier League and in Europe at the time. Danny Hay was here.
“It did get well publicised in New Zealand because of that and it’s a brilliant club, we all know that and hopefully we can get this club back to where it needs to be.
“Everybody at this club, in that dressing room, coaching staff, backroom staff, wants to be in the Premier League; the manager, the owner, everyone.
“It might not happen next season, but the building blocks are there and that’s what I like.”
And on following in the footsteps of many illustrious high-profile striking arrivals before him, including Viduka he added: “You just need to look back at Viduka and Hasselbaink and players like that.
“The number nines who have come through this club are historic and if I can do anything like my fellow Oceania man like Viduka, I’ll be very pleased with that.”