Sebastian Giovinco insists he joined Al-Hilal to become the first player to ‘win Leagues in Europe, the US and Saudi Arabia’ and still has Italy in his sights.
Giovinco ended a historic spell with Toronto FC to join Al-Hilal last month, in a deal that reportedly sees the former Juventus attacker earn as much as €10m a season.
“No player has won Leagues in Europe, the US and Saudi Arabia,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I want to be the first to pull that off and make history. I love challenges and that’s why I chose to come here.
“In early October, Toronto made me a ridiculous offer of a renewal. After what I’d done through the years and the results we achieved, I expected much better treatment from them. I was disappointed and considered it a lack of respect.
“I’m looking for a home because my wife Sharj will soon be joining me with my children Jacopo and Alma, who will go to an international school. We’ll all live this adventure together.
“Riyadh has surprised me. There’s 27°C heat and it feels like summer. Compared to the ice in Toronto, it’s not bad at all!
“I discovered a world quite different to what I read in the newspapers. I wasn’t warned of any danger. Instead there’s a great organisation here and the people are very respectful.
“Football here is very popular. I’ll just say that Al-Hilal have more than 8m fans. It’s like being at a top Italian team.
“The No 10 remains my favourite number, but the captain Al-Shalhoub wears it and it seemed right to leave him to him.
“I’ve scored lots of goals in recent years, so I took No 9. When I went to Toronto four years ago, I didn’t speak a word of English.
“At the beginning it was tough, but my experience in MLS allowed me to learn it and now I speak it without any problems.”
Many believe Giovinco’s Italy career is now over as a result of his move to the Middle East, but does he agree?
“I don’t believe those things,” hit back the 32-year-old, who has 23 caps for the Azzurri but has not picked up any since October 2015.
“In fact, let me tell you more: when I broke scoring records in MLS, I wasn’t even called up by Conte and Ventura.
“Mancini? He called me up, but I was on the bench for both games, so… If I do well and the CT considers it appropriate to call me up, I’m available. If not, I’ll get over it.
“It would’ve been stupid of me to return to Serie A only in the name of hope and without any guarantees.
“I thought of myself and the best for my family.”