Shane Long says Ralph Hasenhüttl’s influence was key to him signing a two-year contract extension at St Mary’s, with the striker believing Southampton are in safe hands under the Austrian.
Long has followed the boss in committing his future to the club after Hasenhüttl agreed terms on a four-year deal earlier this week.
The Irishman joined Saints in 2014, playing his part in three top-eight finishes and Europa League qualification, as well as scoring an iconic late winner at Anfield to reach the EFL Cup final in 2017.
Now he feels the club is building something special again under Hasenhüttl.
“I think since Ronald Koeman left we’ve been trying to find the right manager and find the right fit, and I’ve got that feeling coming back again,” Long said.
“We’ve got the right manager and a group of players who are improving week by week, and I know the club wants to add to that and bring in more strength in depth.
“I can see the club pushing up the league, back to where we all want to be, and I want to be part of that.
“The manager is a big cause – he likes what I bring to the team and he likes how I play. As a player, that’s all you want.”
The 33-year-old admits it has been a worrying period, on a personal level, having entered the last year of his contract for the first time in his career.
“It’s a big relief for me,” he said of the extension. “Obviously it’s not nice coming to the end of your contract with a family at home, not knowing where they’re going to be in the summer.
“It’s taken a while, with the pandemic going on, which is totally understandable. I’m just delighted to get it done.
“My family are very happy here. My kids have settled in school, my wife loves the area and personally I love the area.
“I love the way the club is run, I love what the club stands for and I’m excited about what the club will do over the next couple of years.”