SEB Larsson admits Steve Bruce’s relentless pursuit was key to the pair being reunited at Sunderland.
Swedish international Larsson rejected interest from Aston Villa, Blackburn and former club Arsenal to join Sunderland on a three-year deal.
Black Cats boss Bruce had been trailing Larsson for months and considered a cut-price move in January, knowing the 26-year-old’s deal was expiring at the end of the season.
Bruce opted to wait until the summer to make his move - landing Larsson for a second time after taking the midfielder from Arsenal during his tenure as Birmingham manager.
Larsson said: “The gaffer showed an interest in me quite early – a lot of interest – which is obviously nice and I have worked with him before.
“It was tempting to go back to Arsenal but Steve Bruce pushed the hardest. His ambitions match mine.
“He told me all about what he wanted for the club and what the club is all about. He is one of those managers who pushed it the hardest to try to get me.
“He took me from Arsenal in the first place and that was an important factor. Knowing him from our time at Birmingham, we worked well.
“To know what you are going to get from a manager is good and also when he spoke of his vision for this club, it matched my ambitions.
“Also Sunderland is a big club – a massive club. I wanted to take the next step and I really feel I have done that by coming here.
“It has a huge fan base, great stadium and facilities, and that is what you want when you play football.
“The club are trying to push forward and there have been quite a few new signings which hopefully will make the squad better. That is what they told me before I signed – that they were really going to try and have a go.
“How far that goes, we will have to wait and see.”
After suffering the heartache of relegation with Birmingham last season, Larsson has his sights set higher this time around.
Larsson believes Sunderland can improve on last season’s 10th placed finish, particularly after strengthening their squad with nine summer signings.
“The aim has to be to improve on what we did last year - to progress and try to go to the next level,” he added.
“That next level is obviously above where the team finished last year, but you have to realise it is difficult.
“Breaking into the top six or seven will be very difficult, when you look at the Premier League these days.
“The start to the season that Sunderland had last year was fantastic and they were right up there, then with injuries and difficult moments, they fell down the league again.
“They finished 10th though which is good. Everything is there to push this club forward, hopefully that is what we will do.”