RETURNING to the Premier League is a driving factor for Derby County’s top scorer Chris Martin.
The 25-year-old helped Norwich City reach the top flight in 2011 but he was barely used by the Canaries the following season.
He started only three Premier League games before he was loaned out to Crystal Palace.
Now he stands on the verge of the top division again as Derby prepare to face Queen’s Park Rangers in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday.
He wants to go back and make up for lost time.
“It’s a driving factor for me, I want to get back there,” said Martin, who has scored 25 goals for the Rams this season.
“I wasn’t there long enough for my liking last time, I barely touched it.
“I don’t like to call myself a Premier League player as I wasn’t there long enough.
“I wasn’t fancied at the time to do the job at Norwich – the manager put his trust in others to do the job. That’s what they are paid for and it turned out well for them at the time.”
Martin spent the rest of the 2011/12 season at Palace and then had a loan stint at Swindon Town in 2012/13.
“That was a big learning curve and a step in the process for me,” Martin recalls.
“I went to Crystal Palace and Swindon, and that led to me being here at Derby.”
Nigel Clough signed Martin on loan in February last year and his move was made permanent last summer on a free transfer.
He has not looked back.
Martin has proved a key figure in Derby finishing third in the Championship this season and he scored in both legs of the play-off semi-final against Brighton.
Last week, he was named in the Scotland squad for the first time.
Scotland take on Nigeria in a friendly only four days after Derby’s date at Wembley.
“I can’t predict the future, but hopefully those few days will be the biggest moments of my career,” said Martin.
“If I go to the Scotland squad with one of the biggest smiles on my face, I’ve done the right thing on Saturday.
“Then I will hope to get my first Scotland cap.
“This season has probably been better than what most people would have imagined.
“We have played some of the best football in the Championship.
“We’ve rode the wave, we’ve had so much momentum, and won several games in a row, and that’s given us the belief to be where we are now.”
Martin has enjoyed the responsibility of being being the number one striker and scoring goals.
He believes that has helped him progress.
“That has been a big part of it,” said Martin.
“I’ve been the main striker and that’s the difference this season.
“I was playing second fiddle to others in previous seasons.
“It is a totally different position to what I’ve been used to when I’ve been a second striker or played in the hole.”