Mohamed Diame says it was an easy decision to swap Premier League football for the Championship – because of Rafa Benitez.
Diame joined Newcastle United last month in a £4.5million deal.
The midfielder had just won promotion to the Premier League with Hull City.
But Diame – who previously played in the top flight with West Ham United and Wigan Athletic – felt he couldn’t turn down Newcastle manager Benitez when the club activated his release clause at the KCOM Stadium.
“To be honest, everyone close to me knows I was desperate to play in the Premier League,” said the 29-year-old.
“To achieve this with Hull was a massive thing for me.
“But when Rafa Benitez called me, I had to think about it. This is what I did. I had to think about where I want to be in two or three years.
“I took this decision, and I think I made the right choice.
“With this big manager we need to do well this season and get back to the Premier League.”
Diame feels the foundations are in place at United for a successful campaign in the Championship.
But the Senegal international – who was called up by his country for Sunday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Namibia – knows from experience just how hard it is to win promotion to the Premier League.
Next up for fourth-placed Newcastle are Derby County, who entertain Benitez’s side at the iPro Stadium on Saturday evening.
“We’ve got everything to be in the Premier League,” said Diame.
“The quality of the squad is big. We have a big manager.
“We just need to work hard. I know everyone is saying Newcastle will get promoted really easily, but this league is tough and we need to work and fight.
“It’s a tough league, but if you do the things properly and work hard. Even if you are a good player and have good quality, teams are going to go man to man. You have to fight to win games.”
Diame – who moved to England seven years ago – already feels at home on Tyneside.
“People here have been very good with me – the manager, the players, the staff and even the kitchen people,” he said.
“They’ve been very good with me.”