Sunderland's first January signing explains why he made the move and what fans can expect from him
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Leo Hjelde says he couldn't turn down the opportunity to sign for Sunderland after sealing his switch from Leeds United on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old has signed a four-and-a-half year deal on Wearside to become the club's first addition of the January transfer window. Hjelde, who played against Sunderland in a 2-1 win while on loan at Rotherham United last season, says he was excited to play for another huge club - having joined Leeds United from Celtic earlier in his career.
Hjelde also revealed in his first interview with safc.com that he the move had firmly won the approval of his father, Jon Olav. The former Nottingham Forest scored against Sunderland in 1997 and relayed the size of the club to his son.
"It feels great, it's been a sharp turnaround and I just can't wait to get started," Hjelde said.
"I was very excited [when I heard about the move], I had to have a chat with my dad as well, he showed me how big the club was and everything and with a massive support as well, so for me it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. It's well worth it.
"I've been involved with really big clubs and obviously this one is as well, so you know about the pressure of being at a big club and also having the fanbase behind you as well. I think that's helped me develop and mature."
Sporting director Kristjaan Speakman said the defender would bring Championship experience and versatility to the squad, capable of playing either as a left back or a centre back. Hjelde said he would bring 'high energy' to the Sunderland side.
"I'm a ball-playing centre back, or left back, I'm high energy and like to get up and down the pitch but I like to use my feet and those qualities as well," he said.
"I had a couple of my team-mates at Leeds who were at Sunderland last season and I know the goalkeeping coach as well from there, so I've always had a look out. When the opportunity arose, I couldn't say no."