JOHN Mensah insists Sulley Muntari didn’t require a crash course in Sunderland’s exploits this season, thanks to the exploits of his national team-mates.
Muntari becomes the third Ghanaian at the Stadium of Light after arriving on a season-long loan spell from Inter Milan for a second crack at English football following a year at Portsmouth earlier in his career.
International team-mates Mensah and Asamoah Gyan helped persuade the 26-year-old to join Sunderland, despite interest from other Premier League clubs.
But Mensah claims Muntari was well aware of the progress being made on Wearside, with Sunderland becoming big news in their homeland.
Mensah said: “I had spoken to Sulley before he came here, I told him what Sunderland was like.
“We all know he is a good player. He helped Portsmouth to win the FA Cup and he had a really successful time.
“When he was at Inter Milan he won two league titles and the European Cup, so he has fantastic ability. He is a big player.
“We have played many times for Ghana together and he will improve the team.
“He is hard-working and he is different to the other midfielders.
“He is used to English football as well, so he should not need much time to adapt now he is back.
“He knows Sunderland are a big team and their reputation around the world is growing.
“I have told Sulley this, but he already knew how well we were doing.
“Sunderland are sixth in the table and people in Africa and Ghana are more aware of them.
“When I came here for the first time I knew Sunderland could be a good team.
“We have worked hard with the manager and you can see the improvements we have made.”
Mensah is expected to remain on the bench for tomorrow’s clash with Chelsea after returning to the squad against Blackpool in Sunderland’s last outing.
The 28-year-old has been out since December with an ankle injury and realises he needs to prove his fitness if he is to fulfil his dreams of turning his second loan move from French club Lyon into a permanent switch.
He said: “I would like the move to become permanent. Sunderland are a fantastic club with wonderful fans – the best I have ever known.
“I am fine, at last. I had a slight problem last week, but I am okay.
“It does not get any easier, it has been particularly tough this year.
“I am here on loan and I have to play. The injuries have caused a lot of disruption.
“The most frustrating thing is the most recent one has been nothing to do with my back problem.
“The calf and the hamstring have been fine, it has been three months since I had any problems.
“I injured my ankle against Bolton and that has kept me out.”