Richard Stearman is “delighted” to have signed a new two-year contract to continue his stay at Wolves – and is hopeful he is now moving into the best spell of his career.
At 26, the Wolverhampton-born defender has already chalked up 331 appearances, 186 of them during six years at Molineux, and is potentially heading towards the stage where centre backs are recognised to be at their peak.
He is certainly relishing the added expectation associated being with one of the senior figures within the Wolves dressing room, particularly as this time last year there were doubts over his future at the club after being loaned out to Ipswich.
“I’m delighted to have signed,” said Stearman, pictured signing his contract with club secretary Richard Skirrow.
“It’s been going on for the last few weeks and I’m happy that we’ve got it over the line and I’m really looking forward to next season now.
“There was never any doubt from me about wanting to stay here.
“Obviously I was coming to the end of my contract so I was able to speak to other parties but once the gaffer had initiated that he wanted me to stay I was always more than willing.
“I’ve been delighted with how things have gone over the last season and am delighted to still be here.
“Maybe this time last year it looked as if I might be moving on but I did always want to stay here and the gaffer came in and wanted me to stay and things went really well from there.
“You just look around the place and the facilities and it’s good enough to be a Premier League club even if we’re not there at the moment.
“That is where we are striving to be and I want to be a part of that.”
Stearman continues: “I hope I am going to be a good role model like last year, on and off the pitch.
“I’d like to think I am well respected within the dressing room and it is up to me to make sure that continues.
“As a centre half in particular you tend not to hit your peak until maybe even a few more years yet.
“I think sometimes people forget how young I am still am at 26 and I definitely feel I’ve got a lot more mileage in me yet!
“I’m really pleased to say that is going to be with Wolves for the next couple of seasons at least.”
Stearman’s six years at Molineux have seen the team come full circle as he arrived heading into a Championship campaign in which Wolves won promotion.
He has enjoyed two promotions and three seasons in the Premier League during that time, but rates last season’s Sky Bet League One triumph as one of the memories at the very top of the list.
As he explained: “Last season was amazing, and a career highlight for me and for many of the boys in that dressing room.
“We are looking to pick up from where we left off and hopefully do something similar this season.
“Nobody wanted to be League One but it gave the club the chance for a fresh start and to evolve.
“New faces were brought in and a new impetus and credit has to go to everyone behind the scenes – the gaffer especially – for installing that within us.
“As well as the club hopefully we have restored a bit of pride back within the city as well.”
It’s not long now until the players report-back ahead of that new season, and Stearman is keen for it all to get going once again and test out the fitness levels maintained over the summer.
“I am in decent shape!” he says.
“Dales’ (Tony Daley’s) pre-seasons are famous for being tough but hopefully I am ready for it!
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the boys again – it feels like we have been away for quite a while and will be nice to get going again.
“Let’s hope there are some more exciting times ahead!”