Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin says he was only ever going to join the Gunners, not Tottenham.
The Russian international was linked with a summer move to both Spurs and Barcelona after starring in his country's run to the Euro 2008 semi-finals.
However, a move to either club never materialised - despite Spurs lodging a £16 million bid that was rejected - with Arsene Wenger eventually bagging the highly-rated Zenit St Petersburg playmaker at the end of the winter transfer window for £15 million.
And in an exclusive interview in the latest issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out now, the Russian reveals all about the long-running transfer saga.
“I don’t want to make comparisons between these two teams [Spurs and Arsenal] but clearly it was preordained from above that I should end up at Arsenal,” he says. “It was a hard day [transfer deadline day] – physically and mentally. I was on the go from 8am, and I only managed to grab something to eat at 10pm.
"I only believed the deal was done at the moment I put my signature on the contract. That was about 16.57 or 16.58 London time [minutes before the window closed].” The 27-year-old Russian is hoping to succeed where many of his fellow countrymen have failed by joining a Premier League club.
Until recently, English sides had been somewhat wary of buying players from the former Soviet Union, with question marks hanging over their ability to adapt to the English game. High profile arrivals Sergei Rebrov and Andriy Shevchenko, as well as Alexei Smertin, have all failed to make a sufficient impact.
And, arguably, the last player from that part of the world to truly shine in England was Andrei Kanchelskis more than a decade ago.
However, Arshavin is confident he can adapt his game. “I’m confident I’ll adapt on the pitch," he says. "It’s a matter of fitness and understanding the different demands of my coach and team-mates.
"I'm starting a new life, which means plenty of new challenges. This is my first time away from my native city. London will be unfamiliar and take some getting used to. But I don't see anything bad in that."
The new issue of FourFourTwo is out now, featuring:
• Interviews with Kaka, Arshavin, Terry, Motty, Stam, Dave Mackay & the Chuckle Brothers • The Top 50 Football League Players • Football’s Top 20 Hoaxes • The Best Youth Team Ever • Inside The Damned United • Swansea vs Cardiff
Plus a FREE 36-page England supplement
ARSENAL FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas Q&A Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas One on One Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright Boy's A Bit Special Theo Walcott, Armand Traore Perfect XI Ian Wright What Happened Next? Gus Caesar, Peter Marinello And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan
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