Matt Ritchie is happy to still be a Newcastle United player – having been tipped for an exit last summer.
Ritchie, preparing to face his former club Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturtday, has hit form this season after being switched to wing back by Rafa Benitez.
Benitez, forced to sell to buy by owner Mike Ashley, was prepared to sell the winger last summer to fund a move for Andros Townsend.
Stoke City were interested in Ritchie, now in his third season on Tyneside.
However, a move for Townsend didn’t materialise, and Ritchie ended up staying at St James’s Park.
And Ritchie is happier than ever to be in the thick of it with Newcastle, who are 13th in the Premier League, and three points behind Bournemouth, after five successive home victories.
It’s a challenge I have relished taking on and I still am. For all the good times I had at Bournemouth, not for one moment have I regretted the move.Matt Ritchie
Asked if he was happy how things worked out last summer, the Scotland international said: “Yeah, 100%.
“I’m really enjoying it. We’re in the thick of a Premier League season, and it’s a fantastic club. And the role I’m in, I’m really enjoying it.”
Ritchie spoke about his decision to swap Premier League football with Bournemouth for the Championship with Newcastle earlier this season.
Eddie Howe has established the club in the top flight since promotion in 2015. And Ritchie is “proud” of the part he played in the club’s history.
“It was my decision to leave Bournemouth, because Newcastle was the place I wanted to be – and it’s the same now,” said Ritchie, who had a penalty saved in last weekend’s 3-2 home win over Everton.
“It’s a challenge I have relished taking on and I still am. For all the good times I had at Bournemouth, not for one moment have I regretted the move.
“I take an enormous amount of pleasure watching them on Match of the Day and seeing lads I spent so much time with doing so well.
“We were such a tight group at Bournemouth. The manager, all the staff, everyone involved, I was there for years with them, so that club is still very much part of me.
“It makes me so proud to sit back knowing I played my own part in getting a fantastic club to where they are today.”