Italy international right-back Davide Zappacosta believes that his two-year spell with Chelsea has benefitted him on and off the pitch.
The 27-year-old completed a return to Serie A on Wednesday with a loan move to Roma and the deal is initially for six months with the option to extend until the end of the season.
The former Torino and Atalanta defender says that he enjoyed the challenge of adapting to life abroad since joining Chelsea in 2017.
"I think I developed a lot as a person over the past two years in England. I think I’ve become a stronger character because I had to get to grips with a different place, a different culture, a different language and a different lifestyle. It certainly wasn’t easy, but it was a very positive experience that allowed me to develop both as a person and a player," Zappacosta told Roma’s official website .
He says that he did not hesitate when he knew that the Rome giants were interested in signing him and cannot wait to train with his new team-mates.
“When I got the call to say that I had the chance to come here I said yes straightaway because it’s a massive opportunity. I want to give all I have for this club, starting tomorrow."
The right-back will link up with the club’s sporting director Gianluca Petrachi, who he previously worked under at Torino and Zappacosta says that this was a key factor in his decision to join.
"He was definitely important because I know him from our time at Torino. I know what kind of person he is: I know how much he cares and how passionate he is. That was definitely something that influenced my decision but, regardless of that, Roma is a big club with good prospects.”
Roma coach Paulo Fonseca is known for pushing full-backs forward and Zappacosta says that this is something he will enjoy.
"Yes, I think it will suit me well if we play with high full-backs but defending is still an important part of the role, especially in a back four. It could be good for me, though, because I’m used to getting forward. It’s something that will allow me to show the best of my game."
Roma face Genoa at home on Sunday in their opening Serie A fixture and Zappacosta has fond memories of his previous games against the weekend’s opponents.
He said: "My first goals for both Atalanta and Torino were against Genoa. I hope that’s a good omen for the season opener. It would be a dream come true to kick off with a goal but I think the most important thing is to start well as a team and achieve our objective of getting the three points."