Sunderland manager Simon Grayson was the key to Aiden McGeady joining the Championship club after a successful spell together at Preston last season.
McGeady, 31, was brought in from Everton for an undisclosed fee, just five days after Grayson's appointment as Black Cats boss.
The former Celtic player scored eight goals in 35 games last term.
"I didn't know the manager much but he gave me a licence to express myself," McGeady told BBC Look North.
"It was the best thing that could have happened to me, I played the best football I've played for a few years and re-found that love and enjoyment of the game that maybe I'd been missing."
Despite spending three and a half seasons at Goodison Park, Republic of Ireland international McGeady was limited to 43 appearances in all competitions and spent time on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and North End.
He has joined a Sunderland side hoping to turn around their fortunes following relegation last season and a turnover of personnel at the Stadium of Light.
"Obviously the club coming down from the Premier League I suppose we've gone back to basics a bit where they have to start again and build a steady platform," he added.
"The last few years has been battling against relegation, with the new manager and new players we'll reinvigorate the fans and players who are looking to get back up."