Reuniting with John Still and his staff was a ‘big factor’ for Craig Mackail-Smith in signing for Luton amid summer overtures from clubs higher up the Football League.
The striker was not short of suitors this summer, with Southend, Notts County and an unnamed Championship side among a host of clubs hoping to capture him, but the 31-year-old remained at Luton throughout the pre-season before making his stay official on Saturday.
A two-year deal saw him rekindle his working relationship with Still, who gave Mackail-Smith his big professional break.
The manager took him from non-league Arlesey Town to Dagenham & Redbridge 11 years ago and from there the forward moved to Peterborough before becoming Brighton’s record signing, for £3.25million in 2011.
But a 13-month Achilles injury affected his time with the Seagulls who released him at the end of last term due to a disappointing goal return.
After asking to train with Hatters fitness coach Dave Richardson – a former Daggers man – Luton made him an offer to join them for the pre-season and the rest is history
“It was a big factor in me coming here and wanting to enjoy my football again and have a big smile on my face.”Craig Mackail-Smith
Talking of his relationship with Town boss Still, Mackail-Smith said: “He knows me really well. He knows how I play and knows how to look after me.
“Him, Terry (Harris – assistant manager) and Dave Richardson, they know how to look after my body and get the best out of me. It was a big factor in me coming here and wanting to enjoy my football again and have a big smile on my face.”
Mackail-Smith, who became a Scottish international in the decade after first working under Still, admitted the manager’s temperament has changed, but not his talents.
“He’s calmed down a little bit. He’s not as mad as when I first met him,” the forward said, adding: “He still knows how to pick a player and how to get a team that wins.
“He’s assembled a fantastic squad this season and hopefully it can be a successful one and get promoted.”