David Holdsworth has revealed he kept Andrew Boyce under surveillance for two years after being forced to release the defender during his reign at Mansfield.
The Lincoln boss swooped for the Gainsborough Trinity defender last week, with the ex-Doncaster centre-back penning a deal until the end of the 2012/13 season.
The transfer fee is yet to be determined and will go to a tribunal if the clubs cannot settle on a figure for the 22-year-old.
As they continue to haggle, Holdsworth said he was delighted to be reunited with Boyce who he managed at Mansfield.
But he said budget constraints forced him to let the defender leave the Stags, although it did not deter him from monitoring his progress.
"I am absolutely delighted to bring Boycey in," he said.
"I have known him for a long time and he is certainly a player who I have kept an eye on since my days at Mansfield.
"We worked together at Mansfield, but he was a little bit raw at the time.
"He needed a little bit of education and he needed to grow up in terms of his physical attributes.
"Unfortunately, everything was cut at Mansfield which meant I could not keep him and help him progress.
"But I have kept him under constant watch and he is in my personal bible of players.
"His progression has certainly been enhanced by his mentality.
"He is a good physical presence and he is a winner.
"We are delighted to have him and give him this opportunity to come to our club."
Boyce, who left Mansfield to join King's Lynn, enjoyed a fabulous season at Gainsborough where he helped them to the Blue Square Bet North play-off final which they lost 1-0 to Nuneaton.
The defender's stock rose considerably thanks to a string of impressive performances, which also attracted the interest of League One Doncaster.
But it was Lincoln who made the first move and Holdsworth believes the time spent in part-time football will serve him well.
And he said fans should not to be duped into thinking he is a defender who relies on his physical presence.
"Conference North is a demanding league and winning that first ball is so important," said Holdsworth.
"That is something he does very well and at 6ft 2in, he is built like a brick wall.
"But he is actually a very good player on the deck too.
"He is not slow and is very fleet footed.
"He is a young man who still has lots to learn, but ultimately he had a good season down at Gainsborough.
"I feel he can make the step-up to the Conference and after that who knows?
"It's down to growth and the player's own desire.
"He certainly has the appetite. He knows me as a manager and that's important because he knows I'll treat him well.
"We want vocal commanders and this year you are going to have be a strong personality to keep in our dressing room.
"We want that appetite and winning mentality – it will be fruitful for us."
Boyce is likely to face Gainsborough for a pre-season friendly when the two clubs square up for a Community Day clash at Sincil Bank.
And despite signing one of their county rivals' most-prized assets, he said talks between the clubs were smooth.
"The negotiations were dealt with in a professional manner," said Holdsworth.
"We will play Gainsborough in a friendly as part of our pre-season preparations and we look forward to meeting them."