Fernando Amorebieta has insisted a desire to push himself on a sporting level was the driving force behind his transfer to Fulham.
The Venezuela-born, Basque-raised defender inked a four-year deal at Craven Cottage in April after he rejected the opportunity to renew his contract with Athletic Bilbao.
And although he said his “dream” was to enjoy success with his hometown club, the prospect of English Premier League football ultimately swayed his decision.
“I appreciated Athletic’s offer, which was very good, but in the end I thought I would be fooling myself. I was very excited about the Premier League and was eager to go there, even though my dream was to triumph with Athletic,” he said.
“Money did not make the difference. I’d still have accepted less to sample a new league.”
Amorebieta follows Fernando Llorente in leaving Athletic, with the striker joining Juventus on a free transfer next month, and the centre-back believes their departures have been treated unfairly.
“It wasn’t easy to make this decision. It’s true that I would have liked to say goodbye on the pitch after helping the team, but the coach decided that others were in a better condition to play rather than myself and that must be respected,” the 28-year-old said.
“On one hand I’m grateful that we got to two finals (under Marcelo Bielsa) and that is something hard to forget. But the end of last season was very difficult to take because I was deprived of game time.
“(Llorente and I) made the same decision, and he has been criticised more for it, but hey, it’s unfair to receive criticism after the service we have given to the club. We have always tried to help the team over many years.
“(But even after losing top players), Athletic will stay afloat as they have done previously.”