Ayoze Perez says his first season at Newcastle United exceeded all his expectations – and he’s thanked the club’s fans for embracing him.
The forward arrived from Tenerife last summer as one for the future.
I achieved all my goals. It was beyond my expectations, so I’m very, very happy.Ayoze Perez
But Perez turned out to be one for the present during a season which saw United’s squad decimated by injuries and suspensions.
The club had planned to loan Perez out to a Football League club, but then-manager Alan Pardew handed him his debut in August – and he never looked back.
And the 21-year-old ended the season with seven Premier League goals to his name.
Perez quickly won over the club’s fans with his energy, enthusiasm and eye for goal, and the Spain Under-21 international was just relieved Newcastle stayed up on the final day of the season.
“I feel very good (about my first season),” said Perez.
“Obviously, we achieved our goal (on the last day) and stayed up, so I’m very happy.”
Perez admitted even he was surprised with how quickly he adjusted to the pace and power of Premier League football, having previously played in Spain’s second division.
“I didn’t expect to adapt to English football so quickly, but I think I did adapt,” he said.
“Literally, I achieved all my goals. It was beyond my expectations, so I’m very, very happy.”
Perez felt the backing from United’s supporters was one constant during a rollercoaster first campaign on Tyneside.
“Despite the troubles we went through in the season, the fans stayed with us and supported us through the season,” he said. “They supported the team, not only myself.
“We managed to get the energy from them to get through the season.”
Perez scored a memorable goal against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns with a perfectly-executed backheel, but it wasn’t his favourite memory of the season.
Instead, his fondest moment was the season-ending 2-0 victory over West Ham United on Sunday – despite having been an unused substitute at St James’s Park.
“My favourite moment was undoubtedly (the last game),” he said. “It was very emotional, especially when we scored the two goals.
“It felt great. I was very emotional on a personal level.”