SUMMER signing Kyle Walker-Peters said leaving Tottenham to join Saints on a permanent deal was “something in my heart I felt I had to do” as he prepares for his first full season on the south coast.

Walker-Peters, 23, had spent his entire professional career at Spurs before moving to Saints on loan in January.

And he has now made that move permanent, signing for a fee of around £12million, having impressed during his 10-game cameo for the club in the second half of last season.

England youth international Walker-Peters, who made 24 first-team appearances for Spurs, believes the time was right to get out and play regular football.

Asked how soon into his loan spell at Saints he was looking to turn his stay into a longer-term one, the right-back told the Daily Echo: “It think it was always in my mind. But before I had a chance to make that decision, I had to perform. So I think in the last nine games of the season I really kicked on and I think that’s what really earned my move.

“It was tough (to leave Spurs), but it was something that in my heart I felt I had to do and something I was actually quite excited to do, because I really want to kick on now and further my career.”

Asked if he goes into the campaign with a different mindset knowing he is a first-choice right-back in the Premier League, Walker-Peters added: “I’m going into the season with the same mentality as always. I think if you look at last season, I started the first three games for Tottenham. That’s what I want to do at Southampton, but I want to keep my spot in the team for the whole season, that’s one of my goals. If I perform well, hopefully that’s the case.”

One tradition for new players at Saints is to perform an initiation song in front of the group before their first away game.

But despite his passion for music, the defender is not keen to repeat the ceremony having now signed at the club for a second time.

He explained: “I did it as a loan player. I love music, but I don’t enjoy performing!

“To be honest I cannot remember which song it was. I just went for a song and tried to get everyone singing.”

While he has no plans to perform off the pitch, Walker-Peters is very much hoping to make an instant impact on it when Saints head to Crystal Palace for the Premier League season opener tomorrow (3pm).

Asked how he feels about starting his campaign up against dangerous winger Wilfried Zaha at Selhurst Park, the Edmonton-born ace insisted: “I haven’t thought about their team too much.

“You go into every Premier League game knowing it’s not going to be easy.

“Whoever I’m up against, I’ll try my best to win the battle and what’s most important is what we do as a team. We’ve got to focus on ourselves and come away with the three points.”

He continued: “We’ve spoken as a team and we’ve made it clear we want to start this season better than last. I think if we do that, last season we finished 11th, so why can’t we finish any higher?”

Walker-Peters was one of just two additions to the Saints squad over the summer, with centre-back Mohammed Salisu arriving from Real Valladolid for £10.9million.

And having been one of the form sides throughout Project Restart, the former Spurs man believes keeping a settled squad will be key to Saints starting 2020-21 strongly.

“Yeah, I think that’s important,” said Walker-Peters.

“We finished the season really strong.

“We’ve got one addition in Salisu, which is only going to make our team stronger, so I think we’ve got a close-knit team and it’s good to keep it that way.

“Hopefully we can continue our form.”