Wojciech Szczesny admits he “wanted to be at Arsenal for my whole career” but is happy to have taken a step backwards and ended up filling Gianluigi Buffon’s boots at Juventus.
The Polish goalkeeper made his senior breakthrough in north London and took in 181 appearances for the Gunners across five seasons.
He eventually slipped out of favour following the arrivals of David Ospina and Petr Cech and was forced to seek regular game time elsewhere.
That path led him to Italy at Roma and now Juve, but the 28-year-old concedes this was never part of his plan.
Szczesny told BBC Sport: “I wanted to be at Arsenal for my whole career. It is the club I love. It is the club I still support. I gave everything to play there.
“I regret not having done more there. I won two FA Cups and a Community Shield but I would have liked to win at least one Premier League title.
“But sometimes you have to think with your brain, not just your heart.”
Szczesny spent two seasons on loan at Roma before he was taken to Turin in a £10 million ($13m) deal.
He spent one year working as understudy to the iconic Buffon, prior to his departure for Paris Saint-Germain, and feels that grounding has made it easier for him to fill the No. 1 spot with the Serie A champions.
“My first thought was that sometimes you have to take a step back to take two forward. When I analysed the situation, it wasn't much of a step back because I knew I was going to play,” Szczesny said.
“I got 21 games, which is not bad for a second keeper. I also had the opportunity to learn from one of the best in history and I had one year to prepare for the job of replacing him.
“It was the best career opportunity I could ever have.
“I am proud of the way it has worked out. We all have difficult moments in our careers. It is how you react to them that counts. Where I am now hasn't come out of the blue. I have earned it.”
While now established as first choice at Juve, Szczesny acknowledges that he will never get close to completely covering the loss of an iconic predecessor.
He added: “It is easier because I am not Italian. It means I will never be the next Buffon. I will be the new number one goalkeeper of Juventus and that is it. My only thought process is stopping balls flying into the net.
“I don't go into games thinking I can't make a mistake because everyone is going to miss Buffon.”