Sunderland remove chains from delighted Adam Johnson
Sunderland's new signing Adam Johnson says manager Martin O'Neill has given him the 'confidence and freedom' to play football again.
The 25-year-old joined the Black Cats last week from Manchester City and made his debut in the club's League cup victory over Morecambe on Tuesday.
"The other night I felt like the chains had been taken off me," Johnson told BBC Newcastle.
"When you play one game and you know you could be out the next it's tough."
He continued: "When you haven't played for five games and then you play for one and you're expected to perform, it's difficult."
"Martin [O'Neill] was brilliant and as soon as I spoke to him I knew what he wanted. He has good relationships with players and as soon as I spoke to him I knew it was a good decision to come.
"I owed it to myself to go and play football again and just enjoy playing."
Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough, scoring 13 times in 120 appearances, before moving to Manchester City in 2010.
The Sunderland-born winger admitted he could have moved to the Stadium of Light instead of City two years ago, but even now believes he made the right decision.
"I had the choice to go to Sunderland or City and looking back now I probably made the right decision," Johnson added.
"With the medals and experiences I've had, looking back I'd do it again."
"It was a disappointing end but I've won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Charity Shield and played in the Champions League so it wasn't all bad.
"But it was disappointing that I didn't play as much as I was probably capable of."
Johnson has been included in the England squad for September's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, having been left out by Roy Hodgson for the European Championships.