Nine months after fearing a big-time career was gone, Graeme Murty has departed York City enticed by Premier prospects.

Murty was returning to City's Second Division rivals Reading today to complete a £700,000 record-breaking move, the prospect of which was exclusively revealed in the Evening Press last week, which he hopes will propel him to the top-flight.

Besides being Reading's record deal, it is the highest single cash amount raked in by City. Last season's big-money move by Jonathan Greening to Manchester United will only exceed £1million on appearances.

Murty agreed a four-year deal - quadrupling his wages - convinced by Royals' boss Tommy Burns that the Premiership beckons either with Reading or with another club.

Enthused the 23-year-old winger: "The manager's aim is get Reading in the Premier League in the next two or three years.

"And he added if we don't make it, then provided I put the work in, I have the ability to get to the Premiership anyway with somebody else. When he said that I felt so fired up."

It's a vast contrast to last October when he was transfer-listed by City, his form and fitness dipping. Confessed Murty: "I wasn't playing well, I had several niggling injuries and my head was not right. I was coming up to 23-years-old and I thought I was 'past it'."

But City rallied, drafting in his parents to a meeting, and Murty rediscovered the strident form first noticed by Burns when he was manager of Celtic.

Murty said he was won over by Burns, the ex-Scotland and Celtic schemer, after he and girlfriend Karen Hill were flown to Reading to meet his new employers in the lavish surroundings of the new £38million Majedski Stadium.

"It's a Premier League set-up. It's a 28,000-seater stadium. They expect to fill it for the first game against Luton Town. If I can't play there then I might as well pack my boots away now," declared Murty, who will earn a minimum of £100,000 a year.

"It's much more than about money. I did think Reading might be a sideways step. They were in the same division as City. But within ten minutes I realised it's one step sideways, five steps forward."

The winger said it would have been 'easy' to see out his three-year deal with City. "It's where I am known, where my friends are, where I can handle everything on the pitch.

"No disrespect to anyone at York, but it would not have been a challenge to play as much as this is going to be. There's now a big weight of expectation because of the price tag.

"And if I don't go now I will never know how good I might have been. If I work hard at it now for the next four years and am still not good enough to get in the Premier League then I know I will have given it my best shot."

His ambition has been aided by the help of personal fitness coach Simon Hartley, Murty trimming half a second off his 30metre sprint time.

Fast-tracking his way to the big-time, Murty admitted it would be a massive wrench to leave after eight years at City. Among several fields of dreams was the 'epic' 3-0 Coca-Cola Cup win at Manchester United, and scoring past 'big Nev' Southall in the downing of Everton.

As he surveyed the new challenge he praised manager Alan Little, chairman Douglas Craig and the City fans. "The gaffer has been my only manager. He was in charge of me when I was in the reserves and he also gave me my senior debut," he recalled.

"The chairman has been fantastic over the deal, saying the decision was up to me after an offer had been accepted. If I wanted to stay at York that would be fine, but I would be foolish to turn down this chance.

"I only hope the fans, who have been good to me, will not tear me to shreds when I come back. I've always tried not to let them down."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.