Emanuele Giaccherini's move from Juventus to Sunderland may have raised eyebrows, but the diminutive Italian does not see it as a step down.
The 28-year-old has become a regular fixture of the Azzurri over the past two years, forming part of the Euro 2012 squad before heading to the Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Giaccherini's has also won back-to-back Serie A titles in that time, but now a new challenge awaits at the Stadium of Light.
The 5ft 5in winger now dons the red and white stripes of Sunderland, foregoing Champions League football to play in the north east of England.
"I have always been a big fan of English football because it is a spectacular type of football," Giaccherini said.
"The fans are fantastic, there is massive respect. The people come to the stadiums to watch the football and the support the teams.
"After the game, there isn't the same pressure. On the other hand, in Italy, there is a lot of pressure and also sometimes not nice things happen.
"And also the chance to be a regular starter. At Juventus, I didn't have that because there were a lot of important players in front of me.
"I have put myself at the disposal of the coach for this project and I am happy to be part of it."
Giaccherini penned a four-year deal with the Wearsiders and does not believe the move will hamper his chances of a place at next year's World Cup.
"I came here to play," he said. "At Juventus I was always called up to the national team.
"I had my space in the national team. But for a player, I think there is a lot of pride in playing and showing your value.
"I called the Mister (Italy boss Cesare Prandelli) and I said I was coming here and he wished me the best of luck. And he told me if I continue like this [to play] there wouldn't be any problems."
Giaccherini has impressed in his two appearances for the Black Cats so far and scored his first goal for the club in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Southampton.
"Personally I am not 100 per cent satisfied because I think I have to give a lot more, but I am only at the start," he added.
"We have had only two games and you need a bit of time because English football is a football different from what I played until last season.
"So I am sure I can do well here but I have to work and in a bit of time I am sure I will play even better.
"English football is a lot quicker and certainly more aggressive, also less technical but certainly more aggressive and certainly you have to have a different mentality to what there is in Italy."