New signing Krystian Bielik feels he has taken a huge step forward in his career - and cannot wait to get started with Derby County.
The 21-year-old has signed a five-year contract with the Rams, until 2024, after joining from Premier League side Arsenal, where he has been for the past four-and-a-half years.
During that time, he had loans spells away from the club and last season he helped Charlton Athletic gain promotion from Sky Bet League One.
He put in a Man-of-the-Match display against Sunderland in the Play-Off Final against Sunderland in May and last season’s experience has made him hungry to succeed at first team level.
“Last season was very good for me,” he told RamsTV. “We got promoted to the Championship with Charlton Athletic and after that we had the European Championships with Poland Under-21s, but it didn’t quite work and we didn’t go through.
“I had my holidays and came back to Arsenal and because of the situation, I trained as an individual. I knew already that a few clubs would be interested in me and I might leave Arsenal.
“That was a good time to leave. They didn’t see me as the future anymore and the manager had different plans as well.
“It was sad when I left the training ground but I spent four and a half years at Arsenal. I joined them at 17 so I was only a kid but I leave there as a man.
“I am a 21-year-old man now and I know what I want. That is to play first team football and that’s what I need.
“I’m here to help my team-mates and here to do another step in my career. I promise I am going to do my best in every training session and in every game.
“I’m really glad that I have joined Derby. It’s a massive club and I know that it is a big step forward for me in my career. I’m looking forward now and I can’t wait to get out on the pitch and start training.”
The youngster has worked with some very experienced managers in his short career so far but the lure of working with Rams boss Phillip Cocu was a big one.
Cocu managed PSV Eindhoven to three Eredivisie titles in five years and Bielik is excited to learn from the Dutchman.
“There is a really good coach here in Phillip Cocu and last season it was Frank Lampard and they are similar players,” he said.
“I am looking forward to it because I know I can learn a lot from the gaffer and it’s not only about winning games for me, I want to learn a lot from the manager and I think he can help me improve myself. I can use him and become a better player.
“I can’t wait to join the lads on the pitch and I can’t wait for the first game.”
It isn’t long before the Rams kick off their Sky Bet Championship campaign with a trip to the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town on Monday evening (7:45pm kick-off).
Bielik is accustomed to the fast-paced nature of EFL football following his time with Charlton Athletic and believes he can settle into life with the Rams quickly.
“I think the games are very similar to League One,” he commented. “Games are Saturday, Tuesday and it’s quite crazy but I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m ready and will do my best. It’s all about staying fit, playing the most games as you can and just enjoy the football.”