ADAM Johnson says his decision to join Sunderland was made with his head AND his heart.
In his first interview since joining the club last Friday, the ex-Manchester City man admitted that it had been a difficult choice, in settling on where he would go after leaving the Premier League champions with the likes of Spurs and Liverpool showing interest.
But eventually he decided that Sunderland was the best move for him both professionally and personally.
He told the Echo: “When you’ve been at a club like City, the champions, with all those world-class players, it’s a difficult decision in terms of deciding you have to go.
“And then, after that, it’s a difficult decision deciding where you’re going to go to.
“I had a lot of thinking to do.
“I just felt I had to leave City for myself, because I wanted to go somewhere where I could play week in, week out and enjoy myself.
“There were a lot of clubs in for me, but the manager was a big influence on me. I could also get to see my family.
“But, quite honestly, there was a lot of things that swayed my decision, a lot of things behind the scenes that came into it.”
Though coming back home was an attraction, Easington-born Johnson said his family of Sunderland fans did not put pressure on him to join for their sake.
“My family would have supported me whatever club I was playing for,” he pointed out.
“They didn’t push me to come here.
“It was left entirely to myself and I sat down and had a think about what was best.”
Being close to his family came into consideration for the man yesterday named in Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
But what was key for the winger, was the hard-headed belief that Martin O’Neill would bring the best out of him at a club that intends to keep progressing.
He said: “The manager has been brilliant. He’s the sort of person who fills you with confidence and I respond to that.
“I also like his ambition, too, and what he wants to do with Sunderland.
“The minute I spoke to him I felt it was the right move for me.
“He’s not just content to be a mid-table manager, he wants to take the club higher and I want to be part of that.
“I’m from around here so I know it’s a case of swapping one massive club for another.”
The former Middlesbrough winger admits to mixed feelings over his two-and-half stay at City.
“I’ve got mixed feelings in term of how it panned out for me at City,” he said this morning.
“It was a slightly disappointing end for me but while I was there we did win the league, the FA Cup and the Charity Shield and I got to play in the Champions League – so it wasn’t all bad!
“It’s just that I wanted to play football regularly again and to be able to go out there and just enjoy playing.
“I think as a player when you play one game and are out the next it’s difficult and that was what it was like for me at City.
“There becomes a pressure on you to perform every time you get your chance.