Emanuele Giaccherini has revealed that Italy boss Cesare Prandelli advised him to join Sunderland in the summer.
The Azzurri winger headed his first goal in the Premier League as Paolo Di Canio’s men earned their first point of the season at St Mary’s.
It was also the first telling contribution from a player who is sure to become a key man once he improves fitness that Paolo Di Canio rates at only around “60 per cent” at the moment.
Giaccherini’s decision to come to Sunderland was influenced by Prandelli, who has thrown his weight behind the Black Cats’ Italian-themed transformation by telling the winger he will be monitored on Wearside ahead of next summer's World Cup in Brazil.
“I came here to play. At Juventus I was always called up to the national team. I had my space in the national team,” he said.
“But for a player, I think there is a lot of pride in playing and showing your value.
“I called the boss (Prandelli) before I joined 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.
“I wanted the chance to be a regular starter. At Juventus, I didn’t have that as 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.”
The progress of Di Canio’s revolution has so far been slowed by the club’s continuing search for a creative midfielder – a search that saw them linked with Roma’s
Michael Bradley over the weekend. Di Canio again called for more “presence” in the middle of the field, although it is a position that is causing vexation for Sunderland’s transfer team.
Budgetary concerns – the club are determined to drive down the wage bill while also restructuring – mean that the options to fulfil Di Canio’s requirement for a player familiar with the Premier League are slim.
Now he is saying only that the target is “preferably British” – perhaps an indication that Swansea’s Ki Sung-Yueng is a loan target.
Landing Giaccherini made a difference this summer for Di Canio, who believes he has recruited a major talent.
“He’s one of the positive guys in the national team. That’s clear,” he said.
“Prandelli brought him in because he is versatile, he can play as the fifth man in a midfield five, he can cover the line, up and down, more expansive. It’s a big occasion for him to play here as it’s a tough, tough league and it can help him to be ready for the next World Cup.
“Only the future knows if he has a chance.
“In England we have to work so hard, it’s a big opportunity for him. He’s going to give his best.
“Since day one he’s talking to us in English, to try go everywhere with a book, that gives you an idea of the lad, he’s intelligent.
“He wants to integrate here, he’s going to link well with the English players, he’s intelligent away from the pitch and that reflects on the pitch.”
Sunderland now face two more critical games – taking on MK Dons in the Capital One Cup tomorrow before travelling to Crystal Palace on Saturday. Giaccherini’s modest target is merely to stay in the top flight this season.
“Certainly we will try to have a great season and stay in the Premier League without any problems. We will try and finish as high as possible,” he said.