It may be telling that, when asked what he wants to achieve at Carlisle United, Nathaniel Knight-Percival does not talk initially about success and accolades.

“First of all, just to enjoy playing is paramount,” says the centre-half, who signed a one-year deal with the Blues yesterday. “And then, from there, I want to win games, keep clean sheets and see where that takes the team.”

It would be fair to assume that Knight-Percival’s most recent season was not the most enjoyable of his professional life. Having gone close to promotion with Bradford in 2017, two years later he found himself in a Bantams team nosediving to League One relegation.

The Yorkshire club sank in bottom place, five points adrift, a rot having set in that many put at the door of former chairman Edin Rahic. As such they must begin again at Carlisle’s level, as will several players who inevitably left Valley Parade at the end of the campaign.

Knight-Percival, a regular at the back in good and bad times, does not wish to dwell on the trials of a season best forgotten. He certainly, though, seems ready for a new beginning himself.

“Football can be like that – you’re not gonna win everything, and it was disappointing how the season went,” he says. “But that’s last season now and I’m just looking ahead.

“I think, when you’ve been somewhere for a while, you can kind of get a bit set in your ways. It’s nice to be able to get out of that scenario and start a fresh challenge.”

Knight-Percival has played most of his recent football in League One, also with Shrewsbury and Peterborough, aside from a Championship campaign with Posh and a League Two promotion season with the Shrews.

Does he have any misgivings about dropping to the basement level now, in order to make this new start at 32? “Not really. I think I was sort of looking for a new challenge. I did it a few years back, when I went to Shrewsbury [from Peterborough], and we got a promotion from there.

“Sometimes you just have to look at your options and see what would best suit you. Speaking with the gaffer, we sort of had the same vision, so I think this is perfect for me.”

Knight-Percival is referring to his meetings with Steven Pressley, who targeted the defender relatively early in the summer, and was pursuing him at the same time as another experienced centre-half, Byron Webster.

Webster was first through the door and, after discussing the move with his young family, and travelling to Brunton Park for further discussions earlier this week, Knight-Percival has now followed.

“He [Pressley] showed me round, told me about how he likes to play, and his personality as well is what has brought me here,” Knight-Percival says.

“The high-tempo, the passing style of football he was talking to me about…that’s what excited me. As a centre-back you don’t have to do as much running! But it’s definitely something I can slot into and I think it’ll be perfect for me.”

Knight-Percival has built his career from non-league beginnings. He started with Histon and was part of the village side that shocked Leeds in the 2008 FA Cup, having risen from the seventh to fifth tier.

Back then, as well as holding a nine-to-five job in car electronics, Knight-Percival was a winger. It was not until he moved to Wrexham that his horizons changed and, in pre-season, he was turned into a defender. “It wasn’t a bad changeover,” he told the Bradford website Width of a Post in 2017. “It wasn’t difficult. You just have to concentrate a lot more.”

The change was successful enough for him to keep rising. In 2012, Peterborough signed Knight-Percival, taking him from the National League to the Championship. He went on to play 56 games for the London Road club.

“It was tough when taking that first step up, but it was something [I couldn’t] turn down,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Peterborough and gained a lot of experience in that first year, which I think is invaluable. It could be a bit nerve-wracking at first, but it was a good opportunity.”

He also won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with Posh as they beat Chesterfield at Wembley in 2014. That summer he moved to Shrewsbury and a year later the Shrews were going up to League One. Two years and 77 appearances there were followed by his Bradford switch in 2016.

More success beckoned when, in a team that included the former United striker Charlie Wyke, Bradford reached the 2017 play-off final. But after Millwall’s Steve Morison sneaked behind Knight-Percival to score the only goal, Bradford’s fortunes declined.

Can United’s own fortunes now go the other way, after some mid-table seasons, a big squad turnover and lots of supporter debate on their summer recruitment policy? The newest addition insists a one-year deal “can be beneficial for both sides” and, now his move is complete, can look forward to being a Carlisle player, with all that might entail.

“It’s been a few weeks in the process,” he says of the transfer, “so it’s nice to get it wrapped up, so I can start getting on with pre-season.

“I’ve been training over the summer, doing a bit of running and been in the gym, so hopefully I won’t be too far behind [the other players here]. Everyone knows what you’ve got to go through in pre-season, it’s going to be a lot of hard running and tiring days, but it always puts you in good stead for the rest of the season.”

Knight-Percival describes himself as an “aggressive” defender who also prides himself in his awareness. “Hopefully I’ll also be able to chip in with a few goals at the other end,” he adds.

He insists that, despite coming off three years at one club, he has not looked at the fixture list to see when his reunions with Bradford will be (September 21 at Valley Parade and Boxing Day at Brunton Park) – and, when it comes to United’s expectations in 2019/20, may have learned from experience when he again says he does not want to look too far ahead.

“It’s still pre-season, and I wouldn’t like to jump the gun on anything at all,” he says. “Win as many games as possible and see where it takes you – that’s always the best way to look at it, I think.”