As Davide Santon sits back this summer and reflects on his first season in English football, he knows he made the right choice.
Last August, aged just 20, Santon made the brave move of swapping Inter Milan – a club he had been with since childhood – for Tyneside and the lure of regular first team football at Newcastle.
And while he had to be patient, waiting four months before he could hold down a regular place in the side, a final tally of 27 appearances is not to be sniffed at as the full-back more than played his part in helping United qualify for the Europa League.
Santon has returned to Italy during the close season to visit family and spend time with his friends, but told that his maiden Premier League campaign went better than expected, and he cannot wait to be pulling on the black and white stripes again next year.
“It went really well. It was successful for the team but successful for me as well. I’m starting to get to know the team and make friends and it’s been a really good season. I’ve played a lot of games since breaking into the side. At the start I didn’t, but that was a good period for me. The manager gave me a chance to study, to find out about the team and where I was. It got me used to a new club and a new country and even though no player likes being sat on the bench, I can see that it did me good.”
And as for the difference between Serie A and the top flight over here, Santon has no doubts as to where he prefers to ply his trade.
“The Premier League is fantastic. I love it. It seems like every year English football is getting better, and therefore I’m thankful that I made the right choice to leave Italian football and come here. I hope I am going to stay here for a few years to come, and I hope next season is just as good for us as a team. I am really happy here in England and this is where I want to be.”
Despite a strong second half of the season with Newcastle, Davide Santon missed out on a place in Italy’s Euro 2012 squad – but will be cheering his country on during the tournament.
The 21-year-old, who joined United last summer, has seven full caps for the Azzurri and established himself as the Magpies’ first-choice left-back as Alan Pardew’s side finished fifth in the Barclays Premier League last season.
Playing Europa League football next season would certainly boost the ex-Inter Milan defender’s chances of returning to the national team fold, and he remains highly-rated in his home nation.
He has set his sights on a senior call-up for the World Cup in Brazil.
“The national team is very important in Italy. I would love to play for the senior team again – that is every player’s dream. I am not looking too far ahead but if I continue to play for Newcastle, and I have to play well, then hopefully I will be able to get more international caps. By the time the World Cup comes around I would love to be involved with the senior team.”