Fabio Borini says he has immediately felt the “love” from Sunderland fans after returning to the Stadium of Light for his second spell.
Borini has had almost a fortnight back on Wearside after his £7.75million move from Liverpool ended Sunderland’s 13-month hunt for the Italian international.
The 24-year-old proved to be a popular figure during his season-long loan stint at Sunderland, where his 10 goals included strikes in both derby victories over Newcastle United, plus the opener in the Capital One Cup final.
And after being reunited with the Black Cats, Borini has immediately felt at home.
“It feels good to be back,” he said.
“I can feel the love and support from the fans, and it is important to feel these emotions as soon as you arrive at a club. It makes it easier.”
Borini was limited to just four Premier League appearances for Liverpool last season, after Sunderland’s £14m bid to sign him last summer ended in failure.
But he was then forced to train on his own during pre-season after Liverpool made it crystal clear that he was not part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans.
“It was very difficult (at Liverpool)” added Borini.
“It didn’t work out. Not because of me, but because of someone else. Everyone knows within the club and outside that I have been working hard.
“I gave everything for the club. That is why I stayed at Liverpool, because I thought I could help the team.
“Every time I have been asked to play I did that, and that’s the thing.”
* See tomorrow’s paper for an in-depth interview with Fabio Borini