CURTIS Nelson said the lure of the Championship was too good to turn down after signing for Cardiff City yesterday.

But the departing defender paid tribute to the Oxford United supporters as his three seasons with the Sky Bet League One club came to an end.

Nelson, who made 121 appearances for the U’s, scoring eight goals, has agreed a two-year contract with the Bluebirds.

The centre-back had been offered fresh terms by United, but the former captain had his sights set on a new challenge.

He said: “It’s a great move and really exciting for me, but I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Oxford.

“It’s a brilliant club with so many good people behind the scenes and I am so glad to have spent the last three years there.

“But the chance to play Championship football at a club like Cardiff was something I feel I need to do to test myself at a higher level.

“I leave on good terms and thank the fans for their magnificent support over the last three seasons.”

U’s boss Karl Robinson had given up hope of keeping Nelson and wishes the 26-year-old well.

He said: “Curtis is an outstanding defender, and an excellent pro as well.

“I have no doubt he will do very well for Cardiff.

“We would have loved him to stay, but fully understand his reasons for moving on and he does so with our best wishes.”

For Nelson, the aim is to now break into a Cardiff team who are preparing for life back in the Championship after their relegation from the Premier League last season.

The former Plymouth Argyle trainee is excited about what he knows will be a tough task.

He said: “I can see us challenging to go straight back up again because of the manager at the heart of the club, and the players that we’ve got.

“You’ve got the boys (Sean Morrison, Bruno Ecuele Manga and Sol Bamba) who played there last year, so I’d like to be competition and try to work my way into the team.”

Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock has been an admirer of Nelson for a while and is delighted to finally sign the defender.

He said: “Curtis is a lad that I’ve watched for probably six years, back to his Plymouth Argyle days.

“I felt I should have had him last time when he was available, but I missed out and he went to Oxford.

“So now the opportunity has come and I’m really looking forward to seeing if I can get more out of him.”