JASON STEELE has revealed he could have joined Albion a year ago.

The keeper put family before his career and returned to the North-East to sign for Sunderland instead.

Steele was snapped up by Albion from the Black Cats last month on a free transfer until 2021.

The former Middlesbrough shot-stopper from County Durham was a target for the Seagulls last summer before moving from Blackburn to Sunderland, where a torrid campaign ended in relegation from the Championship.

Steele, 27, told The Argus: “Funnily enough I was close to coming last year.

“I was at Blackburn and a few things happened and at the time I had a decision to make.

“Obviously, looking back I made the wrong one. It was a footballing decision, but I’ve also got a young family from the North-East.

“My wife was pregnant at the time, so I put my family and my family’s future ahead of myself.

“Everything happens for a reason. I’m here now and hopefully I can get ready to work.”

Steele is in Austria with Wigan-bound Christian Walton for a training camp in the run-up to his debut in Saturday’s opening friendly in Switzerland against St Gallen (2pm).

Albion remain keen to complete their goalkeeping group with the addition of Fulham’s David Button.

Walton leaves for a second season on loan at Wigan after the St Gallen match, while established No.1 Mathew Ryan returns next week after representing Australia at the World Cup.