VITO Mannone believes seven years spent at Champions League regulars Arsenal have prepared him perfectly for the greater responsibility he can expect at the Stadium of Light next season.
The 25-year-old, who joined the Gunners from Atalanta as a 17-year-old prospect, has never been able to nail down a regular number one spot at the Emirates, though last season he played more games for Arsenal than any other.
He is confident though that all those seasons spent training under Arsene Wenger will ensure he is not overawed, if and when, he is called on to stand in for Sunderland’s 2013-14 first-choice stopper Keiren Westwood.
“I had a great experience at Arsenal and it was a good learning curve for me,” said Mannone.
“I was really young when I joined them and straight away I was with the first team in pre-season back in 2005.
“Then I went through all the steps – under-18s, reserves – before reaching the first team.
“It has been a great experience – even if I was probably a bit restricted in terms of opportunities. I learned a lot.”
Now he is ready to make the most of that experience.
“I waited a long time for an opportunity like Sunderland, and for me it is a great one,” he said.
“I’m very excited. I am here to work hard and to show what I can do.
“Of course, every player knows they have competition – we live in a world of competition.
“I will work and do my best to be in the first 11, and then the manager will decide.
“All I can do is try to show what I am capable of.”
Although clubs don’t get much bigger than Arsenal, Mannone says he could hardly be more impressed with his new club.
“The potential is incredible,” he said.
“I have come from a big club but to be honest I don’t see any difference in the facilities.
“From what I can see on my first day they are brilliant.
“To have good facilities where you can work and improve is something every club wants to achieve.
“The base is there and I am really happy to be here.”