Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand has said he has been impressed by new manager Steve Bruce's preparations for the new Premier League season.
Former Wigan, Birmingham and Crystal Palace boss Bruce took charge at the Stadium of Light in June following the departure of Ricky Sbragia.
Ferdinand told BBC Newcastle: "This has been the hardest pre-season I've done, but the most enjoyable.
"We've looked good, we're mentally stronger and physically fitter."
Ferdinand's move from West Ham United in August 2008 was a high profile example of a player leaving London to move north, following a number of rejections for then-boss Roy Keane.
England international striker Darren Bent followed in Ferdinand's footsteps when he joined the Black Cats from Tottenham, and the former England under-21 centre-half revealed he spoke to Bent during negotiations between player and club.
"I spoke to Darren a bit, but I think he's already seen already that it's a great part of the country up here and people are nice," said Ferdinand.
"I spoke to him because he moved from London, which is the same thing that I've done, and I said to him that he wouldn't be disappointed with his move up here, because I certainly wasn't."