SUNDERLAND new boy Cabral says he rejected offers from Champions League clubs to be part of Paolo Di Canio’s regime at the Stadium of light.
Midfielder Cabral carefully scrutinised his options after deciding to leave Swiss outfit Basel on a Bosman this summer.
The 24-year-old turned down interest from several clubs on the Continent as he looked to fulfil his ambition of playing in the Premier League.
But Cabral didn’t want to simply move to England to be marginalised in a bit-part role.
Cabral says it was Di Canio’s plans for both him and the Black Cats which persuaded him to commit his future to Sunderland and pen a three-year deal on Wearside.
He told the Echo: “I had a lot of offers and a lot of clubs were interested in me, including some who were in the Champions League.
“But I think I wanted to choose a club where the coach was ambitious. I had two conversations with Di Canio and I got the sense that he wanted to achieve something here with the players he was looking to bring in.
“I wanted to come to Sunderland and play in the Premier League. I’d prefer to come to Sunderland than Arsenal, Everton or Tottenham where I might only be on the bench.
“I’ve got the chance to play regularly for a good club like Sunderland. But most of all, I chose Sunderland because of Di Canio.
“It’s definitely been a dream of mine to play in the Premier League and now it’s come true.”
Cabral admits he could have feasibly extended his stay at Basel, with the Swiss champions offering him a new contract.
But after winning five league titles, three domestic cups and appearing in both the Champions League and Europa League, he felt it was time for a new challenge.
“I had an offer to stay at Basel, which was a good one and I was happy at the club,” said Cabral. “But I felt like I had won everything there – the league, the cup, the semi-final of the Europa League and the last 16 of the Champions League.
“It was a good note to leave the club on after winning the league again. But it was the right decision to leave.
“I needed a change. I’d spent four years there and everyone was great with me. But I wanted to progress in my career.”
Cabral admits his first few days as a Sunderland player have proved a culture shock though, with Di Canio working his squad hard at the club’s Italian pre-season training camp.
“The first few days have been hard, but good,” he added.
“There’s a good atmosphere around the team and I’m enjoying the training. It’s been really hard from the first day.
“Usually I begin quite slowly and then build it up. But straightaway here, it was tough so that’s been something new for me.”