DEAN Hammond admitted the time was right to leave Saints after signing for his old club Brighton on a season- long loan deal.
The midfielder moved back to the Seagulls in the final moments of transfer deadline day, rejoining the team he started his career with.
While the deal is only a temporary one for now, it appears unlikely that the 29-year-old will be seen in a Saints shirt again.
But, after helping them back into the top-flight, it became clear he would have to look elsewhere for regular first-team football.
“The three years I have been there I have played 85 to 90 per cent of the games and captained the team as well,” he said.
“We just came back and the club made the decision they were going to bring some more midfield players in.
“I am the type of player who wants to play football. I don’t want to just be within a 25-man squad in the Premier League.
“As soon as I knew of Brighton’s interest I jumped at the chance. “I could quite easily have stayed at Southampton , but once the opportunity came there was no turning back.
“When I first went to Southampton the ambition was to get back in the Championship and once we did that the ambition was to get in the Premier League and we achieved it, with a similar squad of players.
“Southampton are probably going down a different route now. They are investing heavily in the squad and they have got the financial backing to do it.”
Hammond, who has made 145 appearances and scored 11 goals at Saints following his move from Colchester in 2009, doesn’t believe his Premier League dream is over, though.
He is confident that at Brighton, with manager Gus Poyet in charge, he can get back into the top division.
“It’s everyone’s dream to play in the Premier League but I cannot see why Brighton can’t do that, the way the club is now,” he said.
“It’s fantastic the way they play football and the facilities. I would say Brighton have got as much chance as we had last year with Southampton.
“The squad here is very similar, the type of player, the way the football is played, so I can’t see why not. The Championship is a very tough league and there are a lot of good teams in it.
“Probably 15 teams will be saying the same thing I’m saying, but it’s just getting a bit of momentum going.
“Once you are winning games – and the boys have started the season really well – you never know what can happen.”