Andy Carroll has completed a sensational deadline day move back to Newcastle after being released by West Ham at the end of last season.
The 30-year-old former England striker has signed an initial one-year deal as he looks to put a miserable run of injuries behind him with the club at which he made his name before securing a £35million switch to Liverpool.
Gateshead-born Carroll said: “It feels very good. My friends and family are here, and it’s the club that I support – it is home.”
Carroll’s return to St James’ Park represents something of a gamble by new head coach Steve Bruce with the frontman still working his way back to fitness after undergoing ankle surgery earlier in the year.
However, if he can return to anywhere near the form he showed as he burst on to the first-team scene as a raw teenager, it could prove to be a risk well worth taking.
Carroll added: “I enjoyed the time I spent here, and hopefully I can carry on where I left off.
“When I left eight and a half years ago, I was scoring goals and I was enjoying my football. It’s been a pretty tough time since then, and I just want to get back to that.
“I know it’s home. I’ve played here, I’ve spoken to the fans – I am a fan – and my family is here. For me to get back to where I was, I think this is the only place for me.”
Carroll, who has been courted by his former club on more than one occasion since he left, made his senior debut as a 17-year-old in a 1-0 UEFA Cup victory in Palermo in November 2006, but it was three seasons later that he started to make his mark in earnest, scoring 17 league goals as the Magpies won promotion back to the Premier League.
His progression continued apace in the top flight with his 11 goals by Boxing Day, which included a hat-trick against Aston Villa, prompting Liverpool to swoop on the final day of the winter transfer window in January 2011 with an offer Newcastle simply could not refuse.
Carroll’s exit was greeted by fury with fans who had hoped to see the team built around a new home-grown hero, and the Magpies’ failure to replace him sparked further anger from supporters unhappy with owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club.
Those wounds have been re-opened in recent months following Rafael Benitez’s departure as manager, and replacement Bruce faces a battle to persuade supporters there is cause for hope with some planning to boycott Sunday’s opening fixture against Arsenal.
However, Carroll’s return has at least injected some excitement into another turbulent summer.
Bruce said: “To bring a local hero like Andy back to Newcastle United is fantastic. He is very excited to be home.
“He is a big, physical threat in the opposition box and another great option for us at the top end of the pitch.
“He gives us something different to what we already have and we’ll do our best to get him flying again.”
Carroll is the fifth player to join the club since Bruce’s appointment, following in the footsteps of record capture Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin, Jetro Willems and Emil Krafth.
Bruce will hope he can help to further plug the sizeable gap left by Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, who contributed 23 league goals between them last season.
- Press Association