“It has been my dream for as long as I can remember to be honest, so it is an opportunity I have thought really hard about, and it is one I want to take.”
The words of new Cobblers signing Matty Warburton, who admits he is still pinching himself at the fact he has realised his boyhood dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Warburton this week put pen to paper on a two-year deal at the PTS Academy Stadium, making the step up to the EFL after two successful and goal-heavy years with Stockport County in the Vanarama National League North.
And although the attacking midfielder admits he is sad to leave Edgeley Park, especially after helping the Hatters to the title and promotion to the National League last month, he says joining the Cobblers and stepping up to Sky Bet League Two was a move he simply could’t turn down.
And it’s not just clubs Warburton is switching either, it is also careers, as he is giving up his post as a PE teacher at Ashton on Mersey School in Sale to give full-time professional football a crack.
And he can’t wait to get started.
“I am extremely excited,” said Warburton, who netted 27 goals for Stockport last season.
“I have never had this opportunity before, and it is an opportunity I have wanted to take ever since taking semi-professional football seriously.
“To be here and be part of such a big club with good ambition is very exciting for me.
“I am leaving my career in teaching, one that I absolutely love, but it is for the right reasons.
“It’s not as if I am leaving just to do any old thing, this is the chance to be a professional footballer and that is every boy’s dream.
“It has been my dream for as long as I can remember to be honest, so it is an opportunity I have thought really hard about, and it is one I want to take.
“I am extemely excited, I want to give it everything, but worst case scenario I still have my teaching and I can drop back into that.
“Hopefully that will never be an option and I will stay in football for a very long time to come, but things do change around.”
Warburton has spent the past two seasons under the experienced Jim Gannon at Stockport, and in 2018 he scored 40 goals in the calendar year.
He admits he was extremely happy at the club, who have been playing in the same league as the Cobblers’ county neighbours Brackley Town, but the chance to move to the PTS was one he had to take.
“I have had a wonderful time at Stockport County, I can’t say enough good things about the club, it is absolutely brilliant,” said Warburton, who has also played for north west non-League sides Curzon Ashton and Salford City.
“The people there, the management, the players, the fans are all brilliant, so I am incredibly sad to leave there.
“But when the option comes up to play in the League, at a club with the stature of Northampton, which has a wonderful fanbase as well, I couldn’t turn that down.”
Cobblers boss Keith Curle has described Warburton as being ‘creative and brave’, so how would the player describe himself?
“By trade I am a number 10, so I am not an out-and-out number nine that is going to go and win you loads of headers and flick-ons,” said the 27-year-old.
“I like to think I maybe have a bit of a creative spark in me, and I have an eye for goal.
“I finished the season with 27 goals, was top scorer at the club and fourth or fifth in the league, and hopefully I can take that form here with me as well.”
Before committing to the move south, Warburton met up with Curle on a clutch of occasions, and the player was impressed with the man, and also what he had to say.
“Keith is a funny guy,” said Warburton when he was asked about Curle.
“When I met him he was incredibly welcoming, and he is incredibly ambitious.
“He knows the game really well, he knows what he is after, he knows what he likes, and I think if you buy into what he wants then I think you will succeed.
“That is what I took away from the few times that I met him.
“He impressed me every time, and that made me want to play under him.”
It is certainly now going to be a summer of change for Warburton, who last weekend enjoyed a holiday away with his title-winning Stockport County team-mates.
He is a Cobblers player now though, so what does he know about his new team and new home?
“I know it is a huge club within the area,” he said. “I know it is community-based, and I know it is maybe a league one club sat in league two at the moment.
“So it is part of my mission coming in, and I am sure it is the gaffer’s as well, to get the club into league one.
“Other than that I am going to have to learn about the club as I go, get to know people, get to know the fans, and hopefully be a big part of this.”