WILL Atkinson has revealed his reasons for leaving Southend United in favour of a switch to Mansfield Town.

The 28-year-old opted to end his four year association with the Shrimpers to team up with the Stags.

And Atkinson told Echosport his mind was made up after Mansfield showed more determination to secure his signature.

“Southend came to me in January and said they wanted me to stay but nothing ever came from that and I had to pester them about getting a deal in the end,” said Atkinson.

“It’s been a really tough decision for me to make but if I’m honest I wasn’t made to feel valued or wanted by Southend.

"It was only when they found out I had another offer that they really spoke to me but Mansfield were desperate for me to sign and that’s what made up my mind.”

Atkinson made 175 appearances during his spell with the Shrimpers and started 38 games last season, the third highest in the Southend squad.

And the midfielder said he would always recall his time at Roots Hall with great fondness.

“I’ve really enjoyed my four years at the club and I have nothing bad to say about my time there,” said Atkinson.

“I’ve made a lot of great friends and we’ve had some great times.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs but the promotion season and winning at Wembley in the way we did obviously sticks out as the best moment.

“But I also enjoyed beating Millwall in the FA Cup in my first season and the win we had over Bradford last season was also quite special.

"It’s always sad to leave, especially like this, because we’ve been like a family at Southend.

"There were a lot of other factors which I won’t go in to but sometimes you need a fresh challenge and that’s exactly what I have now.”

Atkinson is one of 11 signings already made by Mansfield this summer.

But he remains disappointed by comments made by Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin, who claimed Atkinson had agreed to stay with Southend and had not told him he would be leaving.

“I’m not normally one to speak out but I read what the chairman said and it disappointed me,” said Atkinson.

“People who know me would know I’m not like that and I’m not happy with how the club have tried to portray me as the bad guy.

"But I would rather focus on the good times and I’m not bitter about anything at all.

“The manager is someone I have respect for because he’s always been great for me and the fans were good too so I wish everyone all the very best for the future.”

However, Atkinson has now switched his sights to securing the third promotion of his career from League Two.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again,” explained Atkinson.

“Hopefully we will win promotion next year.”