Matthew Upson believes he has played his last game for Stoke City as he looks to help take Brighton and Hove Albion up to the Premier League.
The former Diss High School pupil, capped 21 times by England, is out of contract at the Britannia Stadium in the summer and is currently enjoying playing for Gus Poyet’s Brighton in a loan deal until the end of May.
“My contact expires at the end of this season and realistically I will not be going back,” the 33-year-old defender told the Express. “But who knows in football, three months is a long time and anything can happen.
“I am just looking forward to the possibility of getting games.”
The ex-Ipswich Town trainee, who was signed by Arsenal for £2 million in 2007 from Luton Town after being released from the Suffolk club, has so far played three times for the south coast Championship club.
And he has seen enough to believe they can make the play-offs, and hopefully the Premier League for the first time in their history.
“Gus (Poyet) was a deciding factor, he has his own style of football he likes to play,” he said of his new manager.
“He wants to try and move the ball out from the back and the club have got some good technical players in the squad and I’m really enjoying training.”
The Eye-born player, whose father Dickie Upson is chairman of Diss Town, said: “I did not realise how big the club was.
“They are getting really big home support in the new stadium and it is a good football club.
“In a year to 18 months, with the new training ground complete, it will definitely have the structure of a Premier League club.
“And from what I can see in the Championship, they have a good fanbase that would be up in that bracket as well.”
The defender initiated the loan move after being frustrated at only making two appearance for Tony Pulis’ Stoke City this season.
Upson, whose career has also taken in significant spells at Birmingham City and West Ham United, both clubs where he was made captain, also revealed a return to Suffolk and Ipswich Town has never been on the cards, despite tabloid reports suggesting so.
He said: “There has been no possibility of going there at all.
“There has never been any real contact.”
Regarding his future beyond his loan spell at the Amex, Upson has no idea where he will be starting the 2013/14 season, but is not contemplating following England team-mate Jamie Carragher into retirement anytime soon.
“I am just desperate to play football,” he said. “It does not matter how old I am, it is what I go to work to do and I still have plenty of enthusiasm.
“If I can help other people to develop that is great.”
With 15 games left, Brightare four points adrift of Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough in sixth place, following a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night that came after Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Hull City.
The Seagulls travel to leaders Cardiff City on Tuesday.