By Rob Cornell
George Long said that AFC Wimbledon's determination to sign him and the prospect of working with goalkeeper coach Ashley Bayes were big factors in his decision to join the Dons.
At the age of 23, George has racked up over 100 appearances for Sheffield United and also gained experience at Oxford United and Motherwell, but he believes that now is the right time for a new challenge at AFC Wimbledon.
Speaking during an exclusive interview for iFollow, George said: "There were a few other clubs interested as well, but I met with the manager and Bayzo in the summer and after speaking to them about their ambitions and seeing the place, it felt like the right move. Bayzo played a massive part because he has a great track record of working with young keepers. A young keeper (Joe Bursik) has just been sold to Stoke and been involved in the England set-up so I believe that I can improve by working with him every day.
"I knew that Wimbledon were really keen to bring me here. When you get a manager and a goalkeeper coach who are really passionate about getting you to the club, it makes a big difference. In the first days of pre-season training Bayzo has got us hard at work, it's been high intensity, and that's what pre-season should be like. I am just excited to see what the season ahead brings working with Bayzo."
The Sheffield-born keeper added that he's been made to feel very welcome since joining – and he's already heard good things about the fans at AFC Wimbledon.
"It's a great group of players here and I've been made to feel very welcome," said George. "I know a few of the lads already, including Lyle Taylor, who I played with at Sheffield United. I want to try and help the club push forward. This club has had a lot of promotions and I think the aim inside the camp is to try and push it higher again.
"I know it's going to be a tough league next season, but with the togetherness of the squad and the manager here, we can progress. Last season at Sheffield United gave me a taste of what it felt like to be part of a group that gets promotion. Hopefully, that added experience will help me and the squad here.
"I've heard a lot about the fans here and that it's a packed house for every home game. With the new stadium coming as well, the fan base will be getting bigger again. Once I get pre-season games under my belt, hopefully I will be able to form a good relationship with the fans."