New Sunderland signing Cabral excited to be playing in the Premier League

Cabral joined in pre-season training on Thursday. Photo: Press Association

Sunderland midfielder Cabral is relishing the prospect of testing himself in the Barclays Premier League after winning everything he could in Switzerland.

The 24-year-old claimed five league titles and three Swiss Cups during his time with former club Basle, and also had the opportunity to play Champions League and Europa League football.

However, he believes England's top flight represents a whole new test and he is keen to take on the challenge.

He told the Black Cats' official website, www.safc.com:

"This is a new challenge for me and I am looking forward to it.

"Playing in Basle, we won everything in Switzerland, and I played in the Champions League and Europa League.

"Now I have a new challenge in England and, for me, it is the best league."

Basle reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, only to lose out to eventual winners Chelsea over two legs, in a run which captivated the club's fans.

However, Cabral, whose Champions League experience could be invaluable to manager Paolo Di Canio, is well aware of the level of support at the Stadium of Light and is looking forward to running out there for the first time.

"The Champions League was very good and a great experience for the young players.

"Last year, we played in the Europa League and for a Swiss club to reach the semi-finals was very good also.

"Now I am playing for Sunderland in England. I am happy. In Basle, there are passionate fans - around 20,000 or so per game - but this is different.

"Every game we play, the fans are always there and that is important for the team. In the game, I battle for the fans."

Cabral and his fellow new signings got down to work with Di Canio and his staff for the first time this week, and the Cape Verde-born midfielder has already been impressed by the Italian.

"I like the coach. He is passionate and always wanting the team to do better."

The coach is outstanding. First he was a big player, now a great coach. He gives everything for the team."

Former Maritimo defender Valentin Roberge has also witnessed Di Canio's spark at close quarters.

"He likes players to be as passionate as he is about the game. He wants us to learn and loves what he does. We feel that. He lives football."

– Valentin Roberge