AS a footballer who now plies his trade in a country where the three major competitions are sponsored by betting companies, Craig Clay well be well warned against the pitfalls and punishments of having the odd flutter if his heart so desired.

However, the former Grimsby man has more than likely had his fill after a major gamble in his career paid off to land him his dream move to Motherwell.

After being released by the League Two club, Clay came north for an initial trial at Fir Park that turned into him signing on a short-term deal for a matter of weeks so Mark McGhee and his staff could analyse his contribution.

The deal represented a huge risk for the 24-year-old who, if things didn’t work out, would only be allowed to play for another two clubs this season under Fifa rules.

Thankfully though, Clay quickly won over the Motherwell manager, who signed him up on a two-year deal on Wednesday.

"It was a relief as I came up and had my career on the line but I tried to block that out,” said Clay. "I am really grateful it has got sorted.

"I signed as a trialist on a competitive basis and I have never really done that before.

"It was a bit of a gamble but I suppose in life you have to take risks and I thought if it paid off for me I would get the chance to play against some of the better sides in Scotland.

"This is a big stage playing football in the Scottish Premiership and playing against the likes of Celtic and Rangers.

"Hearts are also a big team up here and for that reason alone it was a no-brainer to come here.

"It beats playing a lot of the teams in England. You don't get the chance to play against Celtic and Rangers every week.”

Clay played against Kilmarnock in last weekend’s Ladbrokes Premiership opener, as well as a handful of Betfred Cup matches.

Sadly for the midfielder that also included Wednesday night’s 5-0 hammering away to Celtic. Despite the bruising scoreline, the man who also has an England C cap to his name was not put off by the experience.

"That is what you want to do as football player. You want to play against the best teams and the best players,” said Clay ahead of today’s game at Fir Park against St Johnstone. "The result was not the best but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and it was annoying and frustrating.

"It was an unbelievable experience and the Celtic players are top class. I am looking forward to playing against players like that on a regular basis.

"We have got a big game against St Johnstone and we will just dust ourselves down and hopefully get the three points.”

Speaking about his new recruit, McGhee revealed he had decided some time ago to bring in Clay and it was merely a matter of finding the cash to get his man.

“We found him through our scouting system, same as Richard Tait,” said the Motherwell manager. “He’s been here for a few weeks and we wanted to sign him before now but it was a question of waiting until we found the money.

“Thankfully, we’ve been able to scrape together enough for him to join us."