FLORIAN KAMBERI insists there was never any doubt in his mind he would return to Hibs this summer – once Neil Lennon committed his own future to the club.
The time taken for the Easter Road outfit to clinch a permanent deal for last season’s loan star left supporters increasingly anxious the move might never happen.
When Jack Ross’s Sunderland lined up a £1.7 million bid, the chance of bigger money south of the border heightened the worries in the capital.
But Kamberi, who won over supporters with nine goals in 14 appearances on loan from Grasshoppers last term, is adamant playing in League One in England held no appeal to him, even if he would have earned more with the Black Cats.
And he admits the clinching factor was Lennon reining in the threats made in the wake of last month’s Edinburgh derby defeat that he could leave Hibs.
Revealing he held reassuring discussions with Lennon while on holiday, the 23-year-old said: “It went to the last few days but for me it was clear.
“I spoke to the gaffer before and I knew he was staying so I was pleased to come back and work with him again, the club and my team-mates after this great season.
“I wanted to work with Neil Lennon because he makes me better every day. To be around him and my team-mates and this club makes me happy.
“I asked him if he was going to stay and when he said ‘yes’ I wanted to stay.
“Sunderland didn’t interest me. It was League One. Even if it’s a big club I don’t want to play in a small league.
“I want to play in the first league and I had an opportunity to do that here with Hibs, so it was clear to me that Sunderland was not an option.
“For me it’s not just about money. It’s important to play as much as I can, to win games and be in a good club with a good gaffer.
“At the moment it’s important to give a good performance in a high league to show myself and if I do that then the big money comes later.”
Kamberi admits his long-term aim is to play in the English Premier League but, having penned a three-year deal at Hibs, he is willing to be patient in pursuit of that goal.
Also harbouring international ambitions with Switzerland, the bustling marksman is confident he has made the right decision in turning his temporary stay at Easter Road into a permanent one.
Now, he is hopeful his strike partner from last season, Jamie Maclaren, who has been in action at the World Cup, can also be persuaded to make his loan from Darmstadt in Germany a more lasting arrangement.
The pair met up on holiday in Dubai this summer but Kamberi is keen to be reunited with the Australian on the pitch again next term.
He added: “Jamie texted me asking ‘how is the hotel?’. I told him and then three days later he texted me to say ‘I’m here!’.
‘He was with his wife and it was nice to see him. We had a little bit of chat and went for dinner.
“I like Jamie very much, we had a great partnership and of course I would like to see him back here.
“That would be great because I scored nine, he scored eight and the partnership was good for us and the club.
“It would be great if he came back.”