Portsmouth favourite Gareth Evans: my relief at securing future at the club I love
For Gareth Evans, the weight has been removed and uncertainty banished.
His Pompey future was under discussion for two-and-a-half months, an increasingly-unsettling period for the attacking midfielder.
Evans’ steadfast desire to remain on the south coast was checked by the necessity for agreement to be reached on a fresh Fratton Park deal.
That moment finally arrived on Friday, with a two-year contract signed.
Turning 31 next month, it provides stability for a player who first became associated with the club in July 2015.
And Evans can focus his undivided attention on adding to his 174 Pompey outings and 29 goals.
He said: ‘The manager initially spoke to me about a new contract before Fleetwood (in December) so it has been pretty much going on since then.
‘For it to now happen is a massive weight off my mind.
‘Obviously I have been playing every week, but at the back of your mind you are wondering whether you are going to stay at the club or not.
‘I have a family and you need to organise your future, you want to get it sorted as quickly as possible.
‘It probably took a little bit longer than I wanted it to, but just to have that security for the next few years means a lot – and at a fantastic club.
‘I don’t think it affects performance, when you walk over that white line you don’t think about contracts, you think about the game.
‘But it is at the back of your mind and I’d like to think I can now concentrate on my football.
‘I was keen on getting two years. I didn't really want to stay just for 12 months, I wanted to be here for as long as possible.
‘Everyone knows how much I love the club – so to sign for another two years is fantastic news for me and my family.’
Evans is involved in another Pompey promotion push, while a Wembley visit has already been booked in the Checkatrade Trophy.
And he remains excited about times ahead.
He added: ‘When I first came, it was the start of the Paul Cook era.
‘I knew with the squad we had, the fanbase, and the size of the club, that it wouldn’t be long before getting back to where belong.
‘You can see how far it has come in the three-and-a-half years since I’ve been here – and I’m sure it’s going to keep progressing.’