Sebastian Larsson admits he was close to a return to Arsenal before Steve Bruce convinced him to join Sunderland ahead of the 2011-12 campaign.
The 26-year-old Swedish international midfielder was a free agent after leaving Birmingham City at the end of last season, and had a number of offers in England and abroad to consider before deciding on a switch to the Stadium of Light.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was rumoured to be considering an offer for the former Arsenal academy star who left the Emirates Stadium in 2006 initially on loan before making his St Andrews move permanent in January 2007.
Bruce was the man responsible for bringing Larsson to the Midlands during his previous role as Blues manager, and the chance of linking up with the Black Cats boss again was a key factor in his decision to move to Wearside.
"The gaffer showed an interest in me quite early, a lot of interest, which is obviously nice," Larsson told the Daily Mail. "He pushed it the hardest to try and get me.
"And I have worked with him before. He took me from Arsenal in the first place and that was an important factor. Knowing him from our time at Birmingham, we worked well. To know what you are going to get from a manager is good," he continued.
"He told me all about what he wanted for the club and what the club is all about and when he spoke of his vision for it, it matched my ambitions."
Larsson played over 200 matches during his spell in the Midlands and was a member of the Birmingham side that won the League Cup at Wembley, ironically against Arsenal back in February, but decided to move on following the Blues' relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
"Of course signing for Arsenal was tempting too but it never really got that far," he conluded. "There was an interest and then I decided to sign for Sunderland so that was the end of it."