DUTCH international Erik Pieters insists he is adjusting to life with his new team-mates incredibly well . . . and has highlighted the recent pre-season training camp in France as a major factor in making him feel so settled at this early stage.
The former PSV Eindhoven ace penned a long-term deal with the Potters during the close season, bringing an end to his successful five-year stay at the Philips Stadium.
The 24-year-old only linked up with the Potters seven days ago, but already acknowledges that he feels right at home within his new surroundings, and has paid tribute to those new colleagues for making him feel so welcome.
“I feel really good here, and the players and management have made me feel incredibly welcome, so I thank everybody for that,” he told stokecityfc.com during a recent live webchat.
“It’s been hard work, but really enjoyable so far. The training is really good, and the players have a great friendship between them all, and I am already feeling a part of the group.
“To have had the opportunity of spending so much time with the players and staff out in France has been very worthwhile, and hopefully we can continue the good work we are putting in and make sure that we are ready for the first game of the season at Liverpool.”
The defender admits that it would be a lifelong dream fulfilled should he step out at Anfield on the opening day of the new campaign next month, having always hoped of featuring in the Barclays Premier League at some stage in his career.
“As a boy, I dreamed of this, so to have the opportunity of playing in the Premier League for a Club like Stoke really is special, and I am incredibly grateful to the Club for giving me this opportunity,” he added.
“To play in a league where every team has big players is going to be a real challenge, but one that I am determined to be successful in and enjoy.
“I have a lot of friends over here, and many that I spoke to before I signed for Stoke. Tim Krul at Newcastle is my best friend, so I am looking forward to that game and have already spoken to him quite a lot already.
“Then there are other lads from the national team like Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (Norwich) and three or four at Swansea that I am really looking forward to coming up against too. It’s very exciting.”