TOM Hopper insists he was not looking to leave Southend United.

The striker has now completed a switch – believed to be worth £150,000 – to Lincoln City.

But the move was not instigated by Hopper.

“I loved all my time at Southend, I was very settled in the area and I was ready for the fight but I understand that business is business,” said Hopper, who scored 10 goals in 30 appearances for Blues.

“Lincoln were interested in me 18 months or so ago when I was leaving Scunthorpe but the management has changed since then so the more recent interest came out of the blue really.

“It’s part and parcel of football really and now I’m looking forward to a new challenge with a new club.”

Hopper joined the Shrimpers before the start of last season and scored seven goals in 14 games before being forced onto the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury which kept him out of action for close to a year.

However, Hopper still enjoyed being part of the celebrations on the final day of last season - despite not being able to play - as Blues beat Sunderland to stay up on goal difference.

“I couldn’t play and it was an emotional rollercoaster watching on but it was great to be part of the celebrations after the game.

“The goals I scored were all highlights for me and I just loved being with that group of lads to be honest.

“I made some really close friends and they will definitely all be missed.”

Hopper scored on his first start back from injury - against Tranmere Rovers - back in October and scored three goals in 16 appearances this term.

His last strike for the Shrimpers came in a 4-2 defeat at Bristol Rovers in December. But Hopper will soon be back at Blues as Lincoln City - who sit 12th in League One - visit Roots Hall at the start of February.

“It will be strange coming back to Southend as an opposition player and being in the away dressing room,” said Hopper.

“I’m sure I’m going to have to get used to it though.”

Hopper has become the fourth ex-Southend player in Lincoln’s squad with Cian Bolger, Jack Payne and Ben Coker - who all played for Blues in their League Two play-off final success against Wycombe Wanderers in 2015 - already at Sincil Bank.