Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Carlos Edwards has set his sights on guiding new club Sunderland to Premiership promotion after signing a new three-year contract with the club on Tuesday valued at £1.5m.
Coincidentally, the 28-year-old Edwards now joins National team captain Dwight Yorke at the club who was instrumental in getting Roy Keane to sign the former Defence Force playmaker. And Edwards’ deal has the biggest value for a T&T international since Yorke’s £12.6m move to Manchester United in 1998.Only Stern John' estimated £1.5 m move to Nottingham Forest in 1999 is closer.
"We're absolutely delighted to have captured such a sought-after, top player," said Black Cats boss Keane.
"A lot of clubs have been interested in Carlos, so it's great that he will be here at Sunderland to play his part in getting this club back to the Premiership."
Edwards became the first Luton player since Mal Donaghy in 1982 to represent his county in the World Cup finals last summer and his impressive performances for Trinidad and Tobago linked him with a move away from Kenilworth Road.
A beaming Edwards expressed satisfaction with his new move moments after leaving Sunderland’s Stadium of Light where he signed his contract on Tuesday. He moved to a club now 10th on the Championship Table from Luton which is now in 19th spot.
“I’m actually just driving back home after signing the deal. I didn’t expect the news to be out already,” Edwards laughed as he spoke to TTFF Media when being told it had already grabbed front page headlines on the BBC official site.
Edwards spoke of Yorke’s influence and the fact he chose to be part of Sunderland’s promotion drive rather than sign with a Premiership club.
“I must say it is something I wanted to do which is to sign a contract like this. Dwight had a big part to do with it. He called me up and the manager inquired and then the deal materialized. Dwight spoke highly about the club and about the role I could play in helping them back into the Premiership. And I saw it all for myself when I visited the club today… the facility is fantastic,” Edwards told TTFF Media.
“It’s a dream come true really and now being part of the club I am hoping for better things because we will be pushing for promotion. We are only three points off the playoffs and hopefully I can do my part now as a new signing.”
Edwards added that he was sure his presence and performance at the 2006 World Cup played a part in this move.
“Teams don’t sign you unless they feel you have something special and can add it to the club. And Roy Keane may have seen something and I’m glad it came through.
“Being at the World Cup definitely has played a part in this. There is going to be interest in any player who has been at the World Cup regardless of the height of the club. It takes quality players to play in a World Cup and unfortunately more of our players didn’t make moves as well. The guys now need to continue working and try to emulate players like myself who have moved on through hard work. I crept before I walked – from back home to Wrexham to Luton and now to Sunderland,” Edwards added.
And about the fact that Premiership clubs Newcastle United, Watford, Charlton Athletic and Scotland’s Celtic also showed interest, Edwards promptly stated “This is what most people will talk about. They will think it’s a bad decision if they see it as giving up a chance to play on the bigger stage. I know money has a lot to play in football. I love to play football and I didn’t want to sign a multi-million dollar contract to maybe sit on the bench. I have a talent and I need to be playing. I will cherish this deal and hopefully take into the Premiership. It’s a challenge but I am positive that during my contract here we will end up in the Premiership,” Edwards ended. He is expected to make his debut for Sunderland in Saturday’s FA Cup fixture away to Preston North End.
Edwards signed for Luton in May 2005 from Wrexham after attracting interest from Mike Newell for some time - the Hatters boss originally tried to sign the 28-year-old during his time as Hartlepool manager.
He spent five seasons at Wrexham after signing from Trinidad side Defence Force in June 2000 for £125,000, helping the Red Dragons win the LDV Vans trophy in 2005.