JERMAINE PENNANT could not hide his delight after pledging his future to Stoke City . . . and insisted he never wanted to leave the Britannia Stadium.
The 30-year-old winger, who was due to be released at the end of the 2012-13 season, has signed a new one-year contract with the Potters.
Pennant is relishing the opportunity to pull on a Stoke shirt again after demonstrating to new manager Mark Hughes that a difficult time last season has not diminished his desire to do well for the Club again.
"It's a new era for the Club, we've got a new manager and hopefully we can take that big step forward that all the fans want," he exclusively told Stoke City Player.
"A big part of me staying at this Club was the fans. From the day I signed for the Club, they have been absolutely fantastic.
"I've had people wishing me all the best whether it's at Stoke or elsewhere. Everyone has been asking me to stay and sign again, but that was out of my hands a little bit. I'm very happy to have signed this new deal.
"Getting the call was great news; in fact, it has been difficult not to say anything for the last two weeks and keep quiet, which is what I was advised to do."
Pennant met Hughes for the first time today at the Club's Clayton Wood training complex and admits he was impressed by what he heard from the former Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea star.
He added: "I've spoken to Mark Hughes and he has made a great impression. He explained to me that he wants the Club to go forward; we've been in the Premier League for five seasons and now we have got a base it's all about taking the next step forward.
"With the players we've got and with Mark's attributes we can definitely be one of those teams in the top half of the table."