FOR the last five years Ola Toivonen has been regularly linked with a move to the Premier League and now, rather than representing Newcastle United or Liverpool, the Swede has ended up at Sunderland.

At the age of 29, the only regret he has during his career is that he did not come to the Premier League sooner. If he had, then the chances are he would not be wearing the red and white of Sunderland.

The Black Cats’ interest in the Sweden international has been there for a few years but has only been serious this time around because of Dick Advocaat, who worked with him at PSV Eindhoven. He was keen to have him to call on during the next nine months on Wearside.

But Toivonen could have been in the North-East earlier. Newcastle tried, and failed, to strike a deal with PSV for a decent length of time after he memorably scored a lovely free-kick during a pre-season friendly win over the Magpies in the summer of 2010.

There was an even greater chance of him moving to Liverpool, only for him to be eventually sold to French club Rennes 18 months ago when he dawdled over a possible switch to Norwich City.

“I remember playing that game at Newcastle, we knocked the ball around well that afternoon,” said Toivonen. “I have had opportunities to come to the Premier League before. A couple of years ago it looked like I would be joining Liverpool when Roy Hodgson was there. Not fighting hard enough for that to happen is something I regret in my life.

“I am 29 so when I look back I will be pleased that I took the opportunity to move to France to try out a new league also. I experienced how it is to live there, experienced a new language and culture so it was a nice time. But I always wanted to play in the Premier League so when I got the call from Sunderland it was a quick decision to make.”

Toivonen enjoyed an immediate impact on his Sunderland debut when he emerged from the bench to lay-on the equaliser for Jeremain Lens at Aston Villa nine days ago.

He then travelled to join up with his country for Euro 2016 qualifiers and he came on at half-time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Russia in Moscow; even though he prefers to play behind a lone striker.

Toivonen is already looking forward to joining his Sunderland team-mates on the training ground this Thursday ahead of his home debut against Tottenham on Sunday. While it is too early to talk about his chances of staying beyond a season-long loan, he is open to the idea and is confident of succeeding.

“I had a stressful two weeks before the move,” he said. “I was in to make a transfer somewhere but it didn’t happen for some reason. When I asked my agent to try to get me a loan everything popped up in different places.

“Firstly it is about trying to keep Sunderland up and we will go from there. The most important thing for me was to change club. It was difficult for me and the family in France. We have the Euros coming up and it is important to play regularly because of the competition for the national team places.

“Staying at Sunderland is, of course, in my thinking but we will see. It’s a great facility. I am delighted with what I see and it will be a case of seeing how things happen.

“Everyone I spoke to had great things to say about Sunderland, saying there was great facilities and it was also a chance for me to play in the Premier League. It speaks for itself. When I got the call I didn’t hesitate. When you look at the players we have here it can only get better and I think the international break is a good time for us all to get fit.”