STEPHANE Sessegnon is eager to justify Sunderland’s investment by rediscovering his sparkling form from last season.
Sessegnon was handed a lucrative new deal by the Black Cats in the final week of the transfer window, which ties the Benin international to the Stadium of Light until the summer of 2015.
But last year’s Player of the Season is yet to shine this time around after missing Sunderland’s pre-season campaign through injury.
The 28-year-old admits he is still not at peak physical condition, but believes he is gradually edging closer to full fitness.
Sessegnon told the Echo: “I’m very happy to be staying here.
“The new contract is nice and now I’ve got to continue working hard to justify it.
“The fitness is coming bit by bit, but I know I’m still not at 100 per cent.
“I didn’t have the best preparations to the season and I’m trying to get back to full fitness.
“I’m beginning to get there and I hope it won’t be too long before I’m back to my best.
“I can work hard in training this week after coming back from the internationals and we’ve also got a few games coming up which should help me.
“The club have put their faith in me and I’m going to give my maximum to make sure this season is as good for me as last year.”
Arsenal, Spurs and Sessegnon’s former club Paris St Germain were all linked to the forward during the summer, although Sunderland didn’t receive a concrete offer from any suitors.
But Sessegnon says he was always happy to remain at the Stadium of Light after arriving in a £6million deal from PSG in January, 2011.
“I’ve always been happy here,” he said. “There’s been a lot written and said in the media over the summer about possible interest. But I’ve just continued to train and play the matches and I think it’s been clear that I’ve wanted to stay here.
“I was happy to sign a new contract and I’ll give 200 per cent to give the team the best chance of having a successful season.”
Sessegnon scored in a 3-0 win on Sunderland’s last visit to Saturday’s opponents West Ham United and he admits the Black Cats are in need of another victory in East London this weekend.
Martin O’Neill’s men have drawn their opening three Premier League games after suffering an eight-game winless streak in the finale of last season.
Sessegnon added: “It’s true that we need to get a victory to boost the players.
“Perhaps we’re still not playing to our maximum which is why we’ve not won so far. Let’s hope we can get it in our next match to get our season up and running. We’ve got to continue taking the positives and I’m sure the win isn’t too far away.”