As a boy Stevan Jovetic collected Andriy Shevchenko football stickers and the framed Milan shirt of the man he wants to emulate still hangs in his home. Manchester City's new £22m signing grew up wanting to be the Ukraine striker and finally played against Shevchenko for Fiorentina in May 2009.

"I remember seeing him for Dynamo Kiev and he scored three goals against Real Madrid," he says. "After, he came to Milan and the number of goals he scored, the movement, I liked everything. I watched him on the television a lot, of course.

"Initially I watched him when he first arrived in Italy and I used to collect Shevchenko stickers. But when he came back to Italy later in his career on loan at Milan I had the chance to play against him. It was the last game of the season, we had the chance to talk and we exchanged shirts. I still have the shirt at my house."

Shevchenko was the European Cup and Ballon d'Or winner who arrived at Chelsea in 2006 but left as a £30m flop. "Yes, but if I can have a career like he did then I will be very happy," Jovetic says. "He won the Champions League, a lot of league titles. Sometimes players come to a league and it doesn't work as well as everybody thinks. But that doesn't mean anything. For me, he remains one of the best strikers I have ever seen play."

When Manuel Pellegrini took the 22-year-old Montenegrin from Florence to Manchester, City's new manager completed a quartet of marksmen the Chilean believes are the Premier League's strongest. With Alvaro Negredo, a £20.6m buy this summer from Sevilla, Edin Dzeko and the world-class Sergio Agüero to select from, Pellegrini surely has a case. Carlos Tevez departed for Juventus in the post-season, but Jovetic is inspired, not daunted by the challenge before him.

"I don't feel any pressure. I know about how great Tevez and Agüero are as players," he says. "They are fantastic but all I can do is do my best. Replacing Tevez will be a massive task. But I will just give 100% and try to fill those shoes in the best possible way."

Given the fab four Pellegrini has competing for a starting berth, is Jovetic confident of playing regularly? "Of course, I'm aware that there are other fantastic forwards here, but there will be a lot of games during the season," he replies. "Everyone will have an opportunity and the one who deserves it most will play."

He outlines his preferred position, with Pellegrini planning to deploy 4-3-3 as the default shape. "Obviously, it depends on the tactical system. I like to either play on the left-hand side cutting in or just behind the front striker, playing as a second striker."

Jovetic's strong character was forged in the crucible of serious injury and the desire to succeed that caused him to leave his Podgorica home at 13 to join Partizan Belgrade. "I had a cruciate ligament injury, I was out a few months. When I came back I was better than before," he says, playing down how he missed all of the 2010-11 campaign.

"I never really thought if I would make it back to the top. I knew it would take time. I knew it was a matter of being patient. I was always confident I would come back and in this case I came back stronger than I was before. My stats were better after I returned from that injury.

"These are the moments that actually make you a better person. In difficult times you see what you are made of. That was an experience that helped me to become stronger. I was lucky to have my family with me at the time and I thank them for that.

"My mum worked as a driving instructor and my dad was an employee of the government. When I moved to Belgrade at 13 my sister went with me – she is four years older. She moved with me firstly because moving countries at 13 was very difficult, and also because the schools in Belgrade offered more than they did in Montenegro. We lived together. Of course, they will all be coming over to support me, my sister and parents."

Jovetic can also draw on his experience of being a teenager when moving to Italy, as he attempts to integrate quickly at City. "Yes, that experience will help. I was only young, 18," he says. "Also I had offers from Holland where it would have been easier to go. But I was single-minded in going to Italy. I had a new experience very early and I hope that will help me to settle."

Jovetic, who rates his English as "OK but not so good yet", has returned only modest numbers during his career. In a total of 145 league appearances for Partizan and Fiorentina, he scored 47 times. One memorable performance came when he scored the two goals against Rafael Benítez's Liverpool that knocked them out of the 2009-10 Champions League group stage.

"It was a very eventful year," he recalls. "I scored against Sporting Lisbon, which got us into the group stages of the Champions League. That's when we met Liverpool. We won at home against them – it was one of the highlights of my career." This made Benítez keen to sign him. "Yes, he was, and it was an honour for me. They showed a lot of interest," he says.

Of Newcastle, City's first opponents, at the Etihad Stadium on Monday evening, Jovetic says: "I know they are a strong team – particularly when at home."

Finally, what is his knowledge of the derby with Manchester United? "I've played in derby games before – Red Star against Partizan, Juventus versus Fiorentina. I am looking forward to the City-United rivalry already."