André Schürrle has vowed to make up for lost time as he embarks upon his Chelsea career a year after the London club first registered their interest in signing the Germany international from Bayer Leverkusen.
The forward finally completed his £18.7m transfer to Stamford Bridge earlier this summer and will compete with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Kevin De Bruyne and Victor Moses for one of the three forward-thinking roles behind a lone striker in José Mourinho's favoured system. Schürrle, who has 24 caps, had been aware of the Londoners' desire to bring him to the Premier League last summer and went on to score 11 goals as Leverkusen finished third and qualified for the Champions League.
"I always hoped this move would happen," said Schürrle. "It took a long time, and I'd wanted to come last year to Chelsea and it hadn't worked out. It wasn't my decision. It was the decision of Bayer Leverkusen: they didn't want me to go and I had to make the best of the situation. It was a missed opportunity, of course, but I said to myself I had to do my best in every match and every training session and it would come at another time. So it has proved. I had the contact all the time and now I'm very happy to be here.
"At the beginning it was really hard for me. I wanted this so much and it hadn't worked out. But I had to do my work for Bayer Leverkusen and improve myself, and that's what happened. I wanted to be professional in all ways. The beginning was hard but afterwards it was okay. We had a good team. Now I'm here, and for a lot of money. There's no extra pressure on me because of that, but it makes me proud that the club wanted me that match and paid the money. I will give them my best."
Rudi Völler, the former Germany international and manager who is now Leverkusen's sporting director, suggested last week that Schürrle can develop into "an absolutely world-class player" by playing in the Premier League. "Hearing that makes me proud but I know that I have to improve much," added the forward, who was speaking at Chelsea's Blue Pitch event in Kuala Lumpur. "I want to improve, I have to work hard at my skills. It is an honour for me to play for this club and the only thing I want it to help the team with my qualities.
"I played at Stamford Bridge with Leverkusen in the Champions League two seasons ago and that was a great feeling. Michael Ballack [his team-mate then and a former Chelsea player] told me all the time this is a great club with great people, like a big family. He told me if I had to change then I had to do this move to Chelsea. He also told me José is good for the players and convinced me he could make me a better player."
He knows he will not walk into the team. "There are no promises. I want to train hard, train well, and then help the team with my qualities."