FABRICIO Coloccini repaid every penny of his £10m fee – after silencing his biggest critic.
Coloccini led Newcastle United to a remarkable fifth-placed finish in the Premier League last season.
And the defender’s form saw him handed a new long-term contract earlier this year.
However, Coloccini took time to adapt to the demands of English football after his arrival in the summer of 2008, and the club went on to suffer a painful relegation from the top flight that campaign.
“I knew I could play here, so I came,” Coloccini told SportMail. “But the first year was hard.
“That’s why I wanted to be here – because I wanted to prove to myself I could play in this league.”
Any lingering questions about Coloccini were soon answered in English football’s demanding second tier.
Since that fateful day at Villa Park, the 29-year-old has grown in stature year by year, and manager Alan Pardew handed him the captain’s armband last term after the departure of influential skipper Kevin Nolan.
And Coloccini, now a model of consistency in the heart of Pardew’s defence, maintains the price tag didn’t weigh heavily on his shoulders as he faced the biggest challenge of his football career after spells in his native Argentina, Italy and Spain.
“It was really difficult, but it wasn’t about how much (Newcastle) paid for me,” said Coloccini.
“I came here after playing in Italian and Spanish football, and, for me, it was different.”
Coloccini added: “I’m happy at Newcastle – I think the future is good here.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle will enter the rebranded Capital One Cup at the third-round stage next season because of their involvement in European competition.
The round will be played in the week starting September 24.
United will play a two-legged Europa League qualifier in late August.