Bristol City move is not a step down for ex-Norwich City midfielder Gary O’Neil

Gary O'Neil is scheduled to make an early return to Norwich City with new club Bristol City. Picture

Gary O'Neil is scheduled to make an early return to Norwich City with new club Bristol City. Picture: - Credit:

Gary O'Neil is convinced he has joined a club on the up after rejecting a new Norwich City offer to join Championship rivals Bristol City.

The experienced midfielder will officially become a Robins' player on July 1, when his current Carrow Road contract expires, after agreeing a two-year deal at Ashton Gate.

Alex Neil was keen to keep O'Neil in Norfolk but the 33-year-old is targeting a fifth promotion from the second tier with the ambitious Bristol club.

'It is definitely possible here. You look at a lot of the clubs who have gone up and they don't all have fantastic seasons the year before,' he said. 'Bristol finished lower down the league so it would be a surprise to most if we are pushing right up by the top. That is what the club is looking to do, whether it happens as quickly as this coming season or not time will tell. I have already been promoted four times from this division and hopefully I am coming here to make it a handful.

'It happened quite quickly. I just got a phone call saying Bristol City might be interested and we arranged a meeting with the gaffer. He sold me on the plans and the project here and it was exciting for me to want to be a part of. I am pleased to have come down and got it done. Just being part of something early on is exciting for me at the age I am getting to - the end of my career. It was something I fancied being a part of.'

Robins' boss Lee Johnson, like Neil, is one of the new breed of managers and O'Neil has made no secret of his desire to forge a career in the dugout down the line.

'I am big on the coaching and management side. I have done some of my badges and this will be a fantastic opportunity to learn,' he said, speaking to the club's official site. 'It is something I want to do when I finish but my legs are still fine, the numbers and the statistics I produce are as good as they have ever been so I want to play as long as possible.'