NORTHERN Ireland international Adam Thompson says following his “gut instinct” led to him swapping Southend for Bury.

The centre-back penned a three-year deal at Gigg Lane after being wowed by manager Lee Clark and the club’s Championship ambitions.

Thompson made 121 appearances for the Blues over a four-year spell and turned down a contract extension on the Essex coast to link up with the Shakers.

The 24-year-old was away with the Northern Ireland national side when the deal was completed, but it was his chat with his new boss beforehand which swayed his decision to uproot.

“Just before I went away I heard Bury were interested so I drove up to speak to Brassy (Chris Brass), the manager and the chairman (Stewart Day),” Thompson told Bury Times.

“I had a brief look around the training ground too and as soon as I got in my car afterwards I said to my agent that this was the club I wanted to be at.

“Sometimes in football you never know how things are going to turn out but it was my gut instinct to move.

“Even though Southend tried their best to keep me, the way the manager spoke about his plans, a potential new stadium, the training facility at Carrington, the players he wanted to bring in – there was a real buzz.

“I have been to four countries over the last three weeks so to get the deal over the line was a bit hectic.

“There was a lot of sending contracts back and forth while I was in Northern Ireland.”

Thompson returned from international duty on Monday after his side recorded a friendly victory against New Zealand and a World Cup qualifying win away to Azerbaijan.

Northern Ireland sit second in Group C and are in a good position to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

The former Watford and Brentford man will now re-charge his batteries with a short break before returning for pre-season on July 26 to meet his new team-mates.

“Being away with the national side was an unbelievable experience,” he added. “It has been six years since I was last called up so it was great to be back.

“Although I didn’t play any matches it was great to be around the squad and we got two fantastic results which puts us in a good place in the group.

“I hope I did enough on the training ground to be in the manager's thoughts again and hopefully get into the squad when the next qualifiers come around.

“Now the aim is to get in the Championship.

“Every player in League One wants to play in the Championship and when you look at this league Bury has the most potential to get there.

“I am 24 years old and have never lived away from home before. I thought if there was a time in my life to do it was now.”

However, things could have turned out so different for Thompson had Bury or Southend had different outcomes when they met on the final day of last season at Roots Hall.

The Blues beat Bury 1-0 but narrowly missed out on the play-offs after waiting on the turf for result of rivals Millwall to be confirmed, while the Shakers avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth despite the defeat.

But who would have thought Bury would have had the pull back then to take key players from other promotion-chasing sides this season? Certainly not Thompson.

He said: “From the outside world you would never have known about these plans or the facilities (at Bury).

“When we played Bury on the last game of the season they were one of the in-form teams of the league (despite their position in the table) but I never imagined things would turn out like this.

“I knew about Lee Clark and of his record so I suspected when he took over at Bury that they would do well.

“The club has everything to be successful now and I want to be part of that.”