“Everyone in England breathes football,” Gustavo Hamer told his agent after he penned his deal with Coventry City on Friday morning.
“Finally, everything is done. It felt for ages that the deal was going to happen and now it finally has I am really happy to be here.”
The 23-year-old became Mark Robins’ first signing in the Championship as Sky Blues manager when his pen left the paper, sealing a transfer believed to be worth in the region of €1.5m.
During his time in Holland, Hamer made a real name for himself and, in the words of PEC Zwolle club journalism Johan Inan, the Dutch club were “sad to see their best player go”.
The move is a statement of intent by the Sky Blues who have their eyes firmly set on survival next season and are willing to splash the cash on the right personnel to get the job done.
“I had a really great time at PEC,” Hamer continued. “My son Thiago was born in Zwolle, I got to know nice people there and I personally learned a lot from the coaches – but this move to England has come, in my opinion, at the right time.
“I think the competition in England is the biggest in the world. I’ve heard a lot about the Coventry fans and the players here and it’s good news about achieving promotion to the Championship and it’s also good news for me.
“Not only are there so many league matches in a season, but there are so many cup tournaments.
“The stadiums are packed over Christmas too, which is something I really want to experience.”
Hamer is a name that Coventry fans will have only heard of in recent weeks but for head of recruitment Chris Badlan the pursuit of Zwolle’s little midfield maestro has gone on for months.
Talk that the defensive midfielder was England-bound started to gather pace in early June, allowing Hamer time to google the club. It was then that he learned that the Sky Blues were once an established Premier League side capable of beating the biggest of rivals.
“It turns out that it is a really big club,” he said. “They also played in the Premier League for years in a row!
“In recent years things have gone less well, but last season there had a good, young team. When the coronavirus crisis broke out, Coventry City were well on top [in League One].
“Now they’re in the Championship and we are going to play against Derby County, where [fellow Dutchman] Phillip Cocu is the head coach. We will also meet illustrious clubs like Swansea City, Nottingham Forest and QPR next season.
“I can’t wait to get started. I haven’t played football for almost two months because I’ve had to train by myself, so I can’t wait to go again and meet my new teammates and see everybody.”
Lockdown across the globe only complicating the nature of Hamer’s international transfer.
But on Monday he landed in England and then, four days later, was able to sit his medical at the club’s Ryton-on-Dunsmore training base on Thursday where he met Robins for the first time.
“I have to stay here for a while because of the medical tests, so it’s weird to make the move during these times because the plane I was on was empty and the airports are quiet,” he told the club’s website.
“I spoke with [Robins] and we talked about pre-season and when that is going to start because of COVID-19.
“It was a good first talk, we didn’t speak a lot about football, we spoke about family and when my family are going to come over,” he said.
The Sky Blues squad are set to meet for the first time since lifting the League One trophy next week but not to resume training.
The players will be tested for coronavirus as Robins and his staff plot their pre-season plan with Hamer fully onboard.